ISLAMABAD - As the Election Commission of Pakistan has increased number of constituencies of Islamabad for upcoming general elections from two to three, many second-tier politicians are taking it as a good opportunity to jump into the national politics, suggest the background interaction with the stakeholders.

However, getting party ticket seems to be the primary hurdle the candidates will have to cross, as more than one candidate from at least the two mainstream political parties would be applying for party tickets from each of the three Islamabad constituencies in the upcoming general elections.

They will have to first fight an in-house battle to get the party ticket before going for the next round; election campaign. The reason the politicians take it easy to contest election from Islamabad is heavy reliance on party vote bank.

The local politicians believe that in Islamabad at least, candidates’ popularity and acceptance among the voters is secondary as the educated voters do have strong party affiliation.

Contrary to other parts of the country, the voter of Islamabad does not attach much expectation with his representative when it comes to the politics of ‘thana and katchehry’.

Practically speaking, they would not vote for a particular candidate out of some compulsion or enmity, the political observers who spoke to The Nation held. The case may be a slightly different in rural areas of the capital city where still a large population supports politicians for vested interests, they added.

Under the fresh delimitation, Islamabad has been divided into three constituencies; NA-52 (parts of old NA-49 constituency), NA-53 (a mix of NA-48 and NA-49 constituencies) and NA-54 (parts of old NA-48 constituency).

NA-52 comprises of Simly Dam Road, Jandgran, Jandala, Mara Begwal, Pind Begwal, Tumair, Cherah, Pind Malkian, Nara Sayedian, Tarlai Khurd, Tarlai Kalan, Chattha Bakhtawar, Mohrian, Rawat, Sihala, Lehtrar Road and other areas.

NA-53 comprises of localities as Athal, Shah Pur, Phulgran, Chattar, Park Road, Bani Gala, Lakhwal, Chak Shahzad, Sohan, Khanna Kak, QAU, Noor Pur Shahan, Rawal Town, Bari Imam, Constitution Avenue, Zero Point, Gokina, Talhar, Saidpur, Faizabad, Ojri Khurd and other rural areas. Some sectors are also included in NA-53. These are I-8, I-9, H-8, H-9, G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9, F-6 and F-7.

NA-54 constituency includes Western part of the city comprising 8 rural Union Councils and 6 urban Union Councils and the localities as Sarai Kharbooza, Budhana Khurd, Jhangi Syedan, Noon, Mera Akku, Mera Jaafer, Tarnol, Sangjani and Shah Allah Ditta. The sectors falling in NA-54 include I-10, H-10, G-10, G-11, F-8, F-9, E-7, E-8, E-9, E-10, F-11, G-11 up to I-16, H-16, G-16, F-16, E-16 and sector D-16.

According to the party sources, PPP has already announced its candidates for all the three Islamabad constituencies. In what could be seen as an interesting decision, the party leadership has decided to field the brothers of three former parliamentarians. Afzal Khokhar, brother of former Speaker National Assembly Haji Nawaz Khokhar is likely to contest from NA-52; Syed Sibt-e-Hassan Bukhari, brother of former chairman senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari is likely to contest from NA-53 while Imran Ashraf, brother of former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is likely to contest from NA-54.

Jamaat-e-Islami has a strong candidate who wants to contest from two Islamabad constituencies; NA-53 and NA-54. Talking to The Nation, Mian Aslam, also the ex-MNA from Islamabad, said that he would make a request to the party leadership for contesting election from two constituencies. His former constituency NA-49 has been split into two; NA-53, NA-54 in the fresh delimitation.

Mian Aslam was elected from NA-49 (Islamabad) as MNA in 2002. As, being from the mainstream political parties, PML-N and PTI’s possible candidates would be riding on the popularity wave, the candidate of JI may be confident and relying on his personal contacts with masses and past performance as MNA. His party; JI is not enjoying that popularity in the federal capital at present as the two other political parties have in the city.

Zubair Farooq Khan, a local from Golra Sharif might have been another party candidate had he not been suspended by the party leadership in recent past for not complying with the party discipline.

NA-52: As far as PML-N and PTI are concerned, there is more than one aspirant for party ticket from all the three Islamabad constituencies. Federal Minister for CADD, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary would be a strong candidate for PML-N ticket in NA-52. However, according to the party-men, Raja Waqar Mumtaz, Chairman Union Council Phulgaran and Sajid Abbasi, PML-N General Secretary are likely to contest for the party ticket from NA-52 constituency.

According to the party sources, Dr Tariq will be the most suitable party candidate from the constituency. They said Dr Tariq wants to contest from two constituencies NA-52, NA-53 however, he would prefer NA-53 if asked by the party to choose one. The sources said that as a minister, Tariq Fazal has granted development schemes in the areas now falling in NA-53. The constituency also includes sectoral area where he has a strong vote bank.

As far as PTI is concerned, it may consider any of Raja Khurram Nawaz and Chaudhry Ilyas Meharban as party candidate in NA-52. Meharban had previously contested election from PTI platform in 2013 from the then NA-49 and has a big clan in the constituency. He has potential to challenge the PML-N candidate in the constituency, according to the political observers.

NA-53: The constituency is a mix of old NA-48 and NA-49 constituencies. The PML-N is likely to award ticket to Special Assistant to PM on Law and Justice, Barrister Zafrullah Khan, according to the party sources. NA-53 party ticket aspirants from PTI may include Ali Awan, opposition leader in the MCI; Amir Kiani President PTI North Punjab, Advocate Ali Bukhari and former parliamentarian Dr Babar Awan.

Ali Awan is member of PTI’s Core Committee, CEC and Opposition Leader in MCI. He is a local and most likely to be awarded party ticket from NA-53 constituency. Barrister Zafrullah is not a local and has no vote bank except possibly of the party.

NA-54: As far as election in NA-54 is concerned, Deputy Mayor MCI, Syed Zeeshan Naqvi; ex-MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan; Hafeezur Rehman Tipu, Chairman UC 46 Badhana and some other Union Council chairmen would be contesting for the PML-N ticket.

Anjum Aqeel is a strong party candidate though he had hit headlines for his alleged corruption in Police Foundation housing society here some years back and the party leadership had expressed displeasure over his involvement in the scam.

Ex-MNA Asad Umer, Saifullah Niazi and Amir Mughal may be contesting for the party ticket from Imran-led party for this constituency. Mian Aslam is likely candidate of JI from the constituency.

On the other hand, the city is likely to witness a flood of independent candidates from the Islamabad constituencies in the upcoming elections as well.

Deputy Mayor Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad, Syed Zeeshan Naqvi sees the real contest between PML-N and PTI candidates in Islamabad.

Talking to The Nation, he said merit would be followed for awarding party tickets to the general election candidates. He was hopeful for the party ticket from NA-54 where he would be contesting most likely with Asad Umer of PTI and Mian Aslam of JI. According to the political observers, Mian Aslam, though not from a very popular political party in Islamabad at present, can still emerge as a dark horse.

Talking to The Nation, PTI’s Ali Nawaz said that so many people have applied for the party ticket from three Islamabad constituencies. However, he said that the party leadership would decide awarding party ticket on merit. He was of the view that he has the capacity to challenge his political opponents in the upcoming general elections.

It is to mention here that there is no provincial assembly in the federal capital. So practically speaking, the National Assembly candidates from Islamabad have no wings to be supported. In 2013 general election, Asad Umer had won from NA-48 and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry from NA-49.

Politicians consider it easier to contest from Islamabad because of more reliance on party vote bank.

Voters here do
not attach much expectation to their reps when it comes to ‘thana-katchehry’ politics.

Capital, which has no provincial
seats, is likely to witness a flood of
independents too for NA slots.