PESHAWAR - Chiefs and heads of at least eight political parties including PPP, PML-N, PTI, JUI-F, JI, ANP, QWP and APML will contest from different districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on various National Assembly seats in the general elections scheduled for July 25.
Apart from that, some five former chief ministers of the province are also contesting on different national and provincial assemblies’ seats from KP.
Of being heads of their concerned parties, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, JI chief Siraj-ul-Haq, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan, QWP Chairman Aftab Sherpao and APML chairman and former president General (R) Pervez Musharraf are contesting from various seats which could trigger interesting debates among the general public during the more than a month time left for the general elections.
PPP chief Bilawal is taking part in general elections for the first time. Despite contesting from Sindh, where his party has relatively strong vote bank, Bilawal is also going to try his luck from NA-8 in district Malakand.
On Monday, the last day for submission of nomination papers for candidates, PPP KP President Hamayun Khan and former Senator Farhatullah Babar filed papers on behalf of Bilawal with District Returning Officer, Batkhela, Malakand. Malakand has been a stronghold of the PPP till the general elections of 2013, as since 1988, the party has won 4 elections from the constituency while it had faced defeat in 1997, 2002 and 2013.
Likewise, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, whose party has deeply rooted in Punjab province, will fight in NA-3 Swat. The N-League KP president, Ameer Muqam, filed nomination papers on behalf of Shehbaz Sharif, also a former Punjab chief minister, at district returning office Swat.
PTI chairman Imran Khan will contest on NA-35 Bannu, where the JUI-F has a handsome vote bank and will face former KP chief minister Akram Khan Durrani, a close-aide of JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and a tough contest is expected.
JUI-F chief Fazl-ur-Rehman is going to try his luck this time again from two constituencies one each from his hometown Dera Ismail Khan and Lakki Marwat, from where he had already won in the past elections. Though, Fazl had a sizeable vote bank in southern districts of the KP, however, it is believed that emerging force of the PTI is going to dent it this time.
Apart from that, JI Chief Senator Siraj-ul-Haq will fight from NA-7, Lower Dir from MMA platform. The JI, a party deeply rooted in Upper and Lower Dir districts, is nowadays facing challenges in awarding tickets and that’s why a new group within the JI has recently emerged in the area.
The ANP, a Pakhtun nationalist party, has this time surpassed other political parties by awarding tickets to aspirant candidates. ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan will take part in the elections from NA-24, Charsadda. He had lost to JUI-F Maulana Gohar Shah in 2013 elections and this time again he would face Gohar Shah who is contesting under the MMA banner.
Similarly, QWP Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao will fight on NA-23 Charsadda.
Meanwhile, the former dictator and president of All Pakistan Muslim League Pervez Musharraf also filed his nomination papers for contesting elections on NA-1, Chitral. His party has a sizable vote bank in the district, but it will be a surprise if he wins as other parties are stronger there than his party.
Apart from that, at least five former chief ministers of the KP province including Sardar Mehtab Abbassi, Pir Sabir Shah of PML-N, JUI-F’s Akram Khan Durrani, ANP’s Haider Khan Hoti and PTI’s Pervez Khattak of are also taking part in the general elections on KP Assembly seats from their respective hometowns.