PESHAWAR - A tough contest is expected in NA-31 (Peshawar-V) constituency as major political parties have fielded strong candidates for the upcoming general elections scheduled for July 25. The ANP has won the seat for a record four times.
For 2018 elections, a total of 11 candidates are flexing their muscles to win over their rivals. This time around, the ANP has fielded its old guard Ghulam Ahmad, while PTI’s Shaukat Ali, PML-N’s Muhammad Nadeem, PPP’s Akhunzada Irfanullah Shah and Muhammad Siddiqur Rehman Piracha of MMA are also contesting the elections.
A women candidate, Yasmeen, too is contesting for the seat on Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s ticket, while Noor Hussain from Amun Taraqqi Party, APML’s Aurangzeb Khan, Gul Reham from Pasban Pakistan and independent candidates Rooh Ullah, Shaukat Ali, Muhammad Saqqaf Yasir are also contesting the elections.
Mainly consisting of urban areas of the city including Dalazak Road, Afghan Colony, Faqirabad, Gulbahar, Ganj Bazaar, Chowk Yadgar, Qissa Khawani and Ramdas, the NA-31 (previously NA-1) seat has so far been won by ANP’s Ghulam Bilour for the record four times. This time around, he is again among the contenders for the seat. Having much experience of national as well as constituency politics, a majority of the candidates challenging Bilour are not that much experienced in contesting elections.
There are a total of 390,211 registered voters with 223,574 male and 166,637 female voters in the constituency. In 2013 elections, the number of total voters in the constituency was 320,578, which reflects that almost 70,000 new voters have been added to the voter list in the last five years.
The NA-31 (Peshawar-V), previously NA-I (Peshawar-I), has been won by the PPP twice. PPP’s former chairperson Benazir Bhutto had also tried her luck from this seat in the 1990s polls but lost to the ANP veteran Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. Apart from that, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, a former central leader of the PPP and now QWP chief, won the seat in 1988 elections.
In 1970 polls, this seat was grabbed by Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, while Muhammad Yousaf Khattak secured it in 1977 elections. In 1985, Muhammad Younis Elahi won it as an independent candidate. In 1990 elections, ANP’s Ghulam Bilour won the seat, PPP’s Syed Zafar Ali Shah in 1993 and in 1997 Ghulam Bilour succeeded again.
Likewise, in 2002 elections, MMA candidate Shabir Ahmad Khan bagged the seat by getting 37,179 votes, followed by the ANP’s Usman Bashir Bilour with 35,675 votes and PTI’s Sajid Abdullah getting 2,029 votes only. ANP veteran Ghulam Bilour did not contest the elections since he did not have a BA degree.
Similarly, in 2008 polls, ANP retained the seat when senior Bilour won it by securing 44,210 votes, the runner-up was PPP’s Ayub Shah with 37,682 votes while JUI-F’s Abdul Jalil Jan obtained 4,103 votes in the contest.
In 2013 polls, trying his luck from the constituency, PTI Chairman Imran Khan emerged victorious by securing 90,500 votes followed by the ANP’s Ghulam Bilour bagging just 24,468 votes and PPP’s Zulfiqar Afghani who scored 7,121 votes.
However, Imran Khan later vacated the seat. In the by-elections, the ANP regained its lost constituency when Ghulam Bilour defeated PTI candidate Gul Badshah. They obtained 59,456 and 28,911 votes respectively. A tough contest is once again expected between ANP’s Ghulam Bilour and PTI's Shaukat Ali.
Bilour family is very much active in national and local politics in NA-31. Being a federal minister and MNA, senior Bilour has served his electorates, and this time again, he is expected to give tough time to his rivals.
Generally known as ‘Bilour’s constituency,’ Ghulam Bilour has comparatively an edge over his rivals. PTI has also fielded a strong candidate, Shaukat Ali, who has served as Town Council-I Nazim. He had also been associated with the PML-N and PPP and later joined PTI. Being in power, PTI has completed a number of projects in the constituency. So, it is expected that Shaukat Ali would give tough time to Bilour.
PML-N, PPP and MMA also have a good vote bank, but their leaders rarely visit the constituency. PPP’s nominee for the seat, Akhunzada Irfanullah Shah, was once JUI-F candidate for PK-I and also served as president of JUI-F.
He joined PTI on July 11, 2017, in the presence of the then chief minister Pervez Khattak at CM Secretariat. But, he quit the party when he was denied party’s ticket and quickly joined the PPP to secure his ticket for contesting NA elections in which he succeeded.
SAID ALAM KHAN