Wah cantt - As the countdown for the July 25 general elections begins, political hustle has gripped the twin cities of Taxila and Wah Cantonment. Almost every wall, street, market, pole and building has been festooned with colorful party flags and banners.

During the humid days of July, the political temperature in the historical city of Taxila is rising with each passing day as political rivals flex their muscles for the upcoming general elections. Candidates have geared up their electoral hustle as the polls come closer. It has been observed that despite the harsh weather, the political heavy weights and independent contenders of different political parties have accelerated their efforts to win maximum seats in both provincial and national assembly.  The candidates are using all available tactics during their campaigns to seek votes from the residents of their respective constituencies. The electioneering continues across the city until late at night.

The constituency, consisting of semi-hilly and plain areas of Taxila and Wah has its geo-political significance as on one side it has Taxila city with its eight union councils in the constituency and on the other it has Dhumial, near Rawalpindi Cantonment  which are rural and where family affiliations effect voter decisions. 

Those who are in run for of national assembly constituency NA-63 (Rawalpindi- VII  including former minister for interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, PTI Vice President Ghulam Sarwar Khan besides Mulana Mohammad Sarwar, PML-N district President Sardar Mumtaz Khan, Ijaz Ahmed, former MPA Prof Waqas Khan and Syed Ishrat Zaidi. Those who are in run for  provincial assembly constituency of Taxila-1 (PP-19)  include former MPA Umer Farooq, Ammar Sadeeq Khan, Safeer Alam, Mulana Mohammad Sarwar, Syed Haider Ali, Qurban Ali, Raja Sajid Umer, Raja Mohammad Bilal and Zeeshan Butt. Those contesting for  provincial assembly constituency of  Taxila-II (PP-20)   Mulana Mohammad Sarwar, Tariq Mehmood, Aslam Khan, Tamoor Masood Akbar, Ahsan Abdullah, former MPA Prof Waqas Khan, Amir Iqbal Khan, Sarfraz Asghar, Nadeem Ghafoor, Faisal Iqbal, Amjad Shah and Baber Mehmood. However it is predicted that a tough fight between the top two contenders would decide the future of the politics of this constituency which remains a stronghold of PML-N since a long time. 

 Taxila, once known as the stronghold of the PML-N, was swept by the PTI in the 2013 elections as it grabbed one national and two provincial assembly seats. Interestingly, the war of words is also continuing in this constituency as Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan are levelling serious allegations against each other. The various contenders and candidates of various political parties and their candidates are using banners and posters to publicize their slogans, flags, manifestos and sentiments. In rural and urban areas of Taxila, corner meetings, political camps and rallies mark the onset of what is billed as the historic general elections that feature the voter’s participation and interest in the polls.

Portraits and stickers of different political leaders particularly Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Imran Khan, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Haji Umer Farooq, Ghulam Sarwar Khan and leaders of Jamaat-i-Islami Siraj Ul Haq, Prof Waqas Khan and Safeer Alam are also displayed at almost corner of Taxila and Wah along with the flags of the political parties.  Candidates and their supporters have also hired the services of information technology (IT) experts to convey their messages to millions of people.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan despite saying goodbye to PML- political battleship presently enjoys a strong political position and has a good following among major families in the area. The Wah General Hospital project that he completed recently could further boost his vote bank. Unlike the previous elections, Chaudhry Nisar is facing formidable challenge to defeat Sarwar Khan for a variety of factors. The most important of these factors is Imran Khan who is attracting the young voters, not holding party ticket, division of N vote bank, differences between local party ranks, making it quite a challenging to contest even though his rival Sarwar Khan also faces the stigma of changing loyalties. Faisal Iqbal, locally known as the “Edhi of Wah”, who contested the pervious polls as an independent candidate, announced his decision to support the Ch. Nisar”.

According to political pundits, though JI, PPP, TLP, MMA and independent candidates will also be contesting the elections, the real contest will be between the PTI and Ch. Nisar Ali Khan for two provincial assembly seat in Rawalpindi IV PP-19 (Taxila) and PP-20 (Wah) and national assembly constituency NA-63.

Though some circles are still optimistic about the success of PTI leader Ghulam Sarwar Khan, his nephew Ammar Sadeeq Khan and Tamoor Masood, the ground situation indicates that it would be a tough fight on two provincial and one national assembly seat.

The two powerful rivals are locked in an intense electoral battle.  “It’s now a do-or-die situation for Ch. Nisar and Sarwar Khan as   polls’ result will set the future course of politics of the constituency.

Presently, the sensitivity of the results of polls from area has further increased,” said Nasir Khan, a political observer.

The results of the elections can be hard to predict as family and tribal affiliations are playing an important role in the rural areas and past election history and the prevailing conditions favouring   PTI. Mr Nisar group might just regain its political battle ground after a close contest on July 25.