PESHAWAR - In NA-30 (Peshawar-IV) constituency, the election looks like a political battle within the same family because five major contenders out of the total eight contestants for the seat belong to Arbab family of Khalil tribe.
Members of the influential Arbab family (Khalil tribe) of Peshawar are contesting the general election from other constituencies of the provincial metropolis as well.
For the most important constituency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, denoted as NA-2 until fresh delimitation of constituencies by the Election Commission of Pakistan, all major parties have fielded their strongest candidates. But majority of the candidates are from the same Khalil tribe.
A total of eight contenders are in the race for the seat. Pakistan People’s Party has fielded Arbab Alamgir, son of late Arbab Jahangir Khan, who remained chief minister of the province and won the constituency for four times. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal has awarded ticket for the constituency to Arbab Najeebullah Khan, while Arbab Sher Ali is contesting for the seat on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ticket. Awami National Party candidate Alamgir Khalil also belongs to the same tribe. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is relying on Muhammad Junaid for the seat, while an independent candidate, Muhammad Shaukat Khurshid, is also in the run.
Of the eight contenders, two are old guards; the rest would try their lucks for the first time in the upcoming general election. Mostly comprising urban localities including posh areas of Hayatabad, University Town and Cantonment Board, the constituency has also less-developed areas like Tehkal, Arbab Landai, Regi and Palosai.
Until 1997 general election, only a member of the Arbab family could elect from the constituency, until in the 2002 polls, when Maulana Rahmatullah, also from Khalil tribe, defeated Arbab Alamgir, who was for the first time contesting for NA seat on the PPP ticket. However, in 2008 elections, Arbab Alamgir levelled the score by defeating his previous competitor Maulana Rahmatullah of JUI-F.
Also, in the 2013 polls, the PTI’s Hamid-ul-Haq won the seat by securing 79,125 votes, followed by the JUI-F’s Saeed Jan with 18,787 votes, while Arbab Alamgir got only 10,666 votes in the run.
Arbab Najeebullah quit the ANP and joined the PTI in October 2017. He, however, said goodbye to the PTI, too, after he was denied ticket for the NA-30. Also, he was quick to join the JUI-F to secure the MMA ticket for the constituency and succeeded in his goal. The MMA has a good vote bank in the NA-30, but their voters are not as united as in 2002.
During a visit to the constituency, the PTI workers said, “Arbab Najeeb could have been the winner if the party had allotted him the ticket.” They added that the PTI’s present candidate Arbab Sher Ali was little known in the constituency and was comparatively weaker among his competitors.
On the other hand, it was learnt that the PTI had improved its vote bank in the NA-30 by completing a number of projects there during the last government of the party, which could place the PTI candidate Sher Ali on top of the list among his rivals.
However, when asked about replacing PTI’s former MNA Hamid-ul-Haq with Arbab Sher Ali, a local office bearer of the party on condition of anonymity said that main reason behind the replacement was that the PTI workers were unhappy with the former’s performance.
Arbab Almgir had been former federal minister for communication in the last PPP government, and had completed a number of welfare projects in the constituency. However, he had not been in touch with his electorate since his defeat in 2013 polls.
The PPP has sizeable voters in the constituency, but due to its weak organisational structure and lack of interest on the part of central and provincial leadership, the PPP workers are yet to come out of their homes in support of the party candidate.
In the prevailing situation, it looks as if Arbab Alamgir is contesting as an independent candidate, not on the PPP ticket, a party worker said.
For NA-30, the ANP has fielded Muhammad Alamgir Khalil. His family has been associated with the party since the launch of Khudai-Khidmatgar Movement by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, commonly known as Bacha Khan. For a brief period, he quit the ANP and joined the then PPP-Sherpao and contested 2002 election and lost PK-6 to the MMA’s candidate Kashif Azam. After his defeat, he rejoined the ANP and won the PK-6 seat by defeating PPP’s Ashfaq Khalil in the 2008 polls. Interestingly, the then loser, Ashfaq Khalil, has now joined the ANP and is contesting from PK-75, previously PK-6, replacing Alamgir Khalil.
The ANP has a good number of votes in the NA-30, and its candidate is among the main runners for the seat. Alamgir Khalil escaped two life attempts during the last government led by the ANP from 2008 to 2013.
Talking to The Nation, Abdur Rehman, a resident of Pawakai village in the constituency, said that he had no interest in politics, because the politicians always ignored voters after winning the election.
Gul Afzal, a technician and dweller of Tehkal Bala, said, “I hope for the better and will cast my vote, as it is a national obligation. But I have to decide yet to whom I will cast my vote”.