ISLAMABAD - As many as five bigwigs of Pakistani politics including two former prime ministers and two veterans of last eight general elections since 1985 are contesting the 2018 general election in the twin districts of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

These five bigwigs include former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, ex-PM Raja Pervez Ashraf, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan. These five bigwigs have remained influential on the horizon of the country’s politics in one way or the other.

On the top of the list is the disgruntled PML0N leader and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who is a veteran of the last eight general elections since 1985 and has won all. Nisar, this time around, is contesting the July 25 election as an independent candidate from Rawalpindi’s two National Assembly constituencies (NA-59 and NA-63) and two Punjab Assembly’s constituencies. He is not only facing two candidates of his former party, Raja Qamarul Islam in NA-59 and Sardar Mumtaz in NA-63 but also PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan in both these constituencies. He is contesting one of the toughest elections of his political career and many political observers see that this election will decide the fate of his career in politics.

Nisar contested the first general election of Lower House of the Parliament in 1985, which was held on a non-party basis, from Rawalpindi’s old NA-40 and won by securing 49,071 votes against his opponent Safdar Ali Shah who got 32,392 votes. He contested next two general elections of 1988 and 1990, on the ticket of Islami Jamhoori Ittihad (IJI) and defeated his opponents and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s candidate Habib Khan in 1988 and Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDA)’s candidate Ghulam Sarwar Khan in 1990 consecutively. Nisar contested the election of 1993 on a ticket of the PML-N and defeated PPP’s candidate Ghulam Sarwar Khan with a margin of around 11,000 votes. In the general election of 1997, he on a PML-N ticket defeated PPP’s Sardar Shoaib Mumtaz by a margin of around 38,000 votes. 

With the new delimitation of constituencies before the 2002 general election, Rawalpindi’s old NA-40 was divided into two constituencies, NA-52 and NA-53. Nisar contested from NA-52 and NA 53 simultaneously and defeated PML-Q’s Raja Nasir by a margin of 17,000 votes from NA-52 but faced defeat in NA-53 from Ghulam Sarwar Khan, an independent candidate, by a margin of around 10,000 votes. In 2008 general election, Nisar won the election on both constituencies of NA-52 and NA-53 and defeated both the same candidates who were on PML-Q tickets that time. In the election of 2013, Nisar won the election of NA-52 from PTI’s Ajmal Sabir Raja with a wide margin of 63,000 votes, however, he faced defeat from PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan in NA-53 with a margin of around 8,000 votes. With the new delimitations before the 2018 general election, NA-52 has been changed into NA-59 and NA-53 with NA-63.

From Rawalpindi, AML chief Sheikh Rasheed also a share with Nisar, being a veteran of the last eight general elections. He is now contesting from NA-60 (old NA-56) against PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi and from NA-62 (old NA-55) against PML-N’s Danyal Chaudhry. The PTI as part of the seat adjustment has not fielded candidates in these two constituencies.

He first contested the non-party basis general election of 1985 from Rawalpindi’s old NA-38 and defeated his opponent Ghulam Hussain by a margin of around 21,000 votes. He contested the general elections of 1988 and 1990 from the same constituency on a ticket of the IJI and defeated PPP’s Tikka Khan and PDA’s Chaudhry Mushtaq consecutively. He contested 1993 general election on a PML-N ticket and defeated PPP’s Agha Riazul Islam. He again won 1997 elections and defeated PPP leader Ms Naheed Khan with a huge margin of 47,000 votes.

With the new delimitation before 2002 general election, old NA-38 was split into NA-55 and NA-56 and like Nisar, Sheikh Rasheed contested the election on both the constituencies as an independent candidate. He won both seats by defeating PPP’s Agha Riazul Islam as well as PML-N’s Sardar Tariq from NA-55 and PPP’s Sardar Shaukat Hayat as well as PML-N’s Zafar Ali Shah from NA-56.

Sheikh Rasheed faced first defeat in the 2008 general election on a Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) ticket from PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi in NA-56 and from PML-N’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi in NA-55. In the 2013 general election, he defeated PML-N’s Shakeel Awan with a margin of 13,000 votes from NA-55 (now NA-62) while PTI’s Imran Khan defeated PL-N’s Hanif Abbasi from NA-56 (Now NA-60).

PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also started his political career in 1988 and he was junior to Nisar and Sheikh Rasheed. He is now contesting election from Rawalpindi’s NA-57 (old NA-50) against PTI’s Sadaqat Abbasi as well as PPP’s Mehreen Anwar Raja and from Islamabad’s NA-53 against PTI chief Imran Khan. He first contested election from NA-38 (a constituency that also includes Murree) in 1988 as an independent candidate and defeated IJI’s Raja Zafarul Haq. He contested 1990s elections on a ticket of the IJI and defeated PPP’s candidate Raja Anwar. He contested elections of 1993 and 1997 on a PML-N ticket and defeated PPP’s Col (retd) Habib Khan and PML-Junejo’s candidate Babar Awan consecutively.

With the new delimitations before 2002 election, this constituency was declared as NA-50 and Abbasi on a PML-N ticket lost election against PPP candidate Murtaza Satti in 2002. In the 2008 general election, he defeated his rival Satti of the PPP.

 In 2013 election, he again on a PML-N ticket defeated PTI’s Sadaqat Abbasi and PPP’s Ms Mehreen Anwer Raja.

Former prime minister and senior PPP leader, Raja Pervez Ashraf is junior to all these bigwigs as he started his political career in 1997. He first contested the election on a PPP ticket from NA-37 (now NA-58), the constituency which includes Rawalpindi’s Tehsil Gujar Khan. He lost that election from PML-N’s Khursheed Zaman. This constituency was declared as NA-51 before 2002 elections and Ashraf got the victory on a PPP ticket by defeating PML-Q’s Raja Shaukat Aziz Bhatti and PML-N’s candidate Chaudhry Khursheed Zaman. In 2008 elections, he again on a PPP ticket defeated PML-Q’s Raja Qasim Javed (who got 69,690 votes) and PML-N’s Chaudhry Riaz (who got 56,381 votes) by securing 80, 247 votes. In the 2013 general election, PML-N candidate Raja Javed Ikhlas defeated Ashraf.

With the new delimitations, NA-52 was declared as NA-58 where Ashraf is contesting against PML-N’s Raja Javed Ikhlas and PTI’s Chaudhry Azeem.

Imran Khan who is the founder of his own party—PTI, is contesting election from Islamabad’s National Assembly constituency (NA-53) against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Khan is also contesting elections from four other NA constituencies including NA-95 (Mianwali), NA-131 (Lahore), NA-243 (Karachi) and NA-35 (Bannu).

Khan founded his own party in 1996 and began his political career by contesting the election in 1997. In 1997 elections, he contested from two each National Assembly’s constituencies of Lahore and Karachi and contested from each NA constituencies of Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat, Mianwali and Islamabad. He faced defeat from all these nine constituencies.

In the 2002 general election, he contested election from four National Assembly’s constituencies including Karak, Swat, Mianwali and Lahore. He only got the victory from Mianwali’s NA-71. PTI boycotted the 2008 general elections.

In 2013 elections, Khan contested NA elections from Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Mianwali and Lahore and got the victory from all three constituencies except for Lahore where PML-N candidate Sardar Ayaz Sadiq defeated him.