PESHAWAR - Former world squash champion and PML-N candidate Qamar Zaman, ANP’s Syed Aqil Shah, MMA’s Arbab Farooq Jan and the PTI’s Malik Wajidullah are in race for PK-75 (Peshawar-X) in the general elections scheduled for July 25.
A close fight is expected among the contenders for the seat.
Qamar Zaman is trying his luck for the first time on PML-N ticket. He is aggressively campaigning to win the seat. Syed Aqil Shah had won from this constituency in the 2008 general elections. In 2002, this seat had been won by Ibrahim Qasmi, as independent candidate, while Arif Yousaf of PTI had been victorious in the 2013 polls.
The PTI has this time fielded another strong candidate Malik Wajidullah, who had recently resigned as a Town Council-III member to run for general elections. Political observers say that he is among the leading contenders.
Arbab Farooq Jan is also taking part in the elections for the first time, whose party has also a sizable vote bank in the constituency, which was previously denoted as PK-4 before the new delimitations.
The constituency includes parts of Peshawar cantonment area and Gulberg. It is considered a prestigious constituency because the voters are mostly educated.
As a top player, Qamar Zaman ruled the world of Squash during the 70s and 80s. His biggest triumph was winning the British Open in 1975. Hailing from Naway Kali, Qamar Zaman is challenging mainly his senior colleague Aqil Shah. Flanked by young squash players and sports lovers, Qamar has launched a door-to-door drive to muster up public support.
Winning Pakistan Junior Squash Championship in 1968, Qamar had also been runner-up at the World Open 4 times, losing to Geff Hunt of Australia. Three times World No. 1 and 11 times World No. 2 by winning 116 international matches, Qamar Zaman said that it was time to work for people’s welfare.
The former world squash champion said that a number of political parties had approached him but he accepted the PML-N ticket.
In 2013, Arif Yousaf, a lawyer by profession, had won on PTI ticket by grabbing 20,741 votes, followed by Ibrahim Khan Qasmi as independent candidate with 10,540 votes; Aqil Shah secured just 5,868 votes.
This time, Arif Yousaf was not given the ticket being accused of selling his vote in Senate elections held in March 2018.
Aqil Shah is also among the strong candidates, and his party has launched a massive campaign to win the seat.
During a visit to the constituency, the locals complained that they were faced with numerous challenges. “We are lacking potable water and hours-long electricity outages,” Mazhar Ali, a resident, said, adding that they would vote sensibly this time around.
The level of political awareness has increased among the people and it would be hard for the candidates to deceive them easily this time, a shopkeeper, Nazar, said.