ISLAMABAD - The disqualification of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Yousaf Ayub Khan in a fake degree case on Friday has dragged the two ruling parties - PML-N and PTI - in what appears to be ensuing a ‘proxy war’ for winning bye-elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday declared powerful provincial minister Yousaf Ayub Khan ineligible to retain his provincial assembly seat PK-50 (Hharipur-2) for his fake degree and ordered re-election for it.

Yousaf, the grandson of late military ruler Ayub Khan, had defeated Qazi Muhammad Asad with a margin of hardly 2,000 votes. But Qazi Asad challenged his victory for dodging disqualification for having a fake degree.

Earlier, PTI’s Faisal Zaman - also known as ‘Jahazon Wala’ - was elected from PK-52 Haripur after defeating PML-N’s provincial president and former chief minister Pir Sabir Shah. Pir Sabir has also challenged the legitimacy of Zaman’s graduation degree on the basis of which he had won the 2002 election on a PML-Q ticket.

Zaman claimed that he obtained his degree from the University of Nigeria, where his company had been doing business for decades.

 Shah alleged Zaman’s degree was bogus and the election tribunal also termed it suspicious, after which it referred the matter to District and Sessions Judge Haripur for investigation.

The defeated candidates appear to be optimistic about winning the appeals in the hope of giving their constituencies another opportunity to vote in the by-polls, which they believe, will be held in the upcoming month in Haripur if the lawmakers are disqualified. The challengers have also started campaigning.

Likewise, Dr Raja Amer Zaman, scion of the Rajgan family in Khanpur, who was elected on a PTI ticket from NA-19 Haripur, is facing major challenge from his rival candidate Omer Ayub Khan for rigging polls.

Omer, also the grandson of Ayub Khan, was narrowly defeated by Zaman with a margin of just 1,400 votes, and challenged the results and alleged rigging, accusing Dr. Amer Zaman of PTI MNA from Haripur for conspiring with the election staff at some polling stations.

Dr. Amer Zaman on other hand denied the allegations and asked Omer to accept the election results.

Complying with his complaint, the Election Commission, nevertheless, ordered a recount, which went on for over a week. This time, the vote count for Zaman increased.

Omar remained resilient and approached the election tribunal, which sought voting records on August 22. The fate of PTI MNA from Haripur also remains in doldrums. However, his real brother Raja Faisal Zaman was the lone PML-N MPA who secured the PK-49 in the entire district.

Now after the disqualification of Yousaf Ayub, the top notch of the PTI and PML-N have started flexing their muscles to face each other in the bye-elections.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has assigned the task to Dr. Azhar Jadoon, PTI MNA NA-17 (Abbottbad), to do his utmost to retain the lost seats in district Haripur.

While the PML-N has assigned the task to central leader Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, who had lost to Dr. Azhar jadoon in his home constituency in May 11 elections, to secure the two Haripur seats with this promise that he would be offered KPK governorship if delivers the good.