PESHAWAR - In regard to the general election, all eyes are on the two National Assembly constituencies in Charsadda district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where heavyweights including Jamaat-e-Islami chief Siraj-ul-Haq, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan are in the run for the national legislature.
The JI chief will face unbeaten QWP Chairman Aftab Sherpao while the ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan will fight this time again against his old political rival Maulana Gohar Shah of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on NA-24 Charsadda-II, to whom he had lost the seat in the general election 2013.
Another heavyweight, Fazal Muhammad Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is also among the strong contenders from NA-24.
Electioneering is in full swing and to win the constituencies, as door-to-door campaigns are underway and corner meetings are being held to muster support of the people. So far, no party has announced a public meeting in Charsadda, which might be because of sizzling heat as less than one month is left in the polls being held on July 25.
In the past, the district remained divided between two major stakeholders from the area, the ANP and the QWP. However, since 2002, the JUI-F is also taking its share from two NA and five KP Assembly seats in the district.
For 2 NA seats in the district, a total of 130 candidates are in the run. For NA-23 Charsadda-I, the QWP chief Aftab Sherpao, who also remained chief minister of the province, will face Siraj-ul-Haq this time. However, it is also expected that Siraj may withdraw from the race.
Siraj is also contesting from NA-7, Lower Dir, where his party has not only a strong vote bank, but which is also his hometown constituency. In case Siraj withdraws from Charsadda, the JUI-F's Zafar Ali could be the MMA candidate for the constituency.
For the same constituency, the ANP has fielded Gulzar Khan; JUI-F has nominated Zafar Ali and the PTI has awarded ticket to Anwar Taj. Since 1988, Aftab Sherpao has been winning from this constituency. He has been unbeatable so far and this time again, he is stated to be the main contender.
The PTI is facing the wrath of disgruntled workers who are opposing the award of NA-23 ticket to Anwar Taj instead of the party’s old guard Jehanzaib Khan Dhaki who had contested 2013 election on PTI ticket from the same seat. The PTI workers demanding ticket for Jehanzeb held protests at Bani Gala that bore no fruit.
On NA-24 Charsadda-II, where the ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan will again face Maulana Gohar Shah of the JUI-F, the JI has nominated Akbar Khan and the QWP has awarded ticket to Haji Hidayatullah Khan and the PPP has fielded Pir Aftab Alam, who are among the prominent contestants for the constituency.
The PTI had worked hard and had relatively improved its vote bank in the constituency during its 5-year government. In addition, 3 former MPAs, Abdul Shakoor Khan of JUI-F and Sultan Muhammad and Khalid Mohmand of the QWP had recently joined the PTI, which would also benefit its candidates fielded on NA seats from the district.