ISLAMABAD - The voters of NA-19 Haripur (KP) are set to choose their new member of the National Assembly (MNA) during the bye-election scheduled for 16th August with two major players PML-N and PTI are leading in the election campaign that has entered into final phase.

Among the seven candidates in the run are Raja Aamar Zaman from PTI and Babar Nawaz Khan from PML-N, while candidates from PPP and JUI (F) among the rest are trailing far behind in the election arena.

Since last Friday, the election campaign has got impetus after top leadership of the PML-N and PTI got involved in the process that generated extraordinary sentiments among the voters leaving every one guessing about the fate of their respective candidates. There are claims and counterclaims from each of the two parties that their respective candidates would win the election.

Many leaders including Reham Khan, wife of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, have so far visited the constituency and addressed public meetings in different parts calling upon the voters to support respective candidates of their parties. Prime Minister‘s Special Assistant on Political Affairs, Dr Asif Kirmani also visited and addressed a couple of public meetings in the constituency. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan are also expected to visit Haripur to address political cadres of their respective parties to bag the seat. This shows how important is the seat for each of the two political players.

At the outset of the election campaign, it appeared as PML-N’s candidate Babar Nawaz Khan had an edge over his rival candidate from PTI Raja Aamar Zaman. But after the visits of high-ups of their respective parties and their public meetings situation hangs in balance.

This has been the third time since general elections 2013 that the voters of this constituency would be choosing their MNA in the bye-election on the orders of the Supreme Court.

In May 2013 election, major and traditional rivals Dr Raja Aamar Zaman, candidate of Pakistan Ttehrik-e-Insaf, and former minister Omer Ayub Khan, a candidate of PML-N, were in front of each other among many others.

Both the candidates were very strong, having political family backgrounds. Moreover, Omer Ayub Khan had a past history of his services which he rendered for the constituency during his ministership period (2002 to 2007) in the era of General Pervez Musharraf and his permanent contacts with the people even when he was not their elected representative. But tsunami of Imran Khan was very much supportive for Dr Raja Amar Zaman. PTI's candidate Dr Raja Aamar Zaman was declared as returned candidate with a lead of some 2200 votes grabbing over 116000 votes in the election whereas his rival Omer Ayub Khan's votes were counted as over 114000.

Omer Ayub Khan did not accept his unexpected defeat and filed a petition in the election tribunal rejecting the result for recounting the votes. His petition was accepted and in the recounting his rival Dr Raja Aamar Zaman was again declared winner; however then his lead was reduced from 2,200 to 1,300.

Recounting of the votes also could not satisfy Omer Ayub Khan and he again went to election tribunal with the allegation of rigging by his rival in 78 polling stations of the constituency.

After a legal battle of few months, election tribunal admitted the plea of Omer Ayoub Khan but termed rigging only in seven polling stations instead of 78 including Bagra, Ghazi Hamlat, Khanpur Mamria, Aloli, Kalanjar, and two polling stations of Khalabat, and ordered for re-election in these seven polling stations.

Election Commission of Pakistan announced re-election in those seven polling stations on 29th of January 2014.

Dr Raja Aamar Zaman filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the decision of election tribunal and after lengthy proceedings the Supreme Court handed down its verdict in his favour and as a result the Election Commission of Pakistan announced schedule to hold fresh election on August 16.