NA-19 Haripur – Political Analysis of Nail Biting Election Contest
Even though there is enough time to upset the pendulum in a nick and neck electoral contest between PML-N and PTI for NA-19 Haripur on August 16, in middle of the campaign public sentiments clearly weighing in favour of PML-N candidate Babar Nawaz Khan.
A visit to some parts of the constituency revealed that PML-N has bright chances of retaining the seat which had fallen vacant after Omer Ayub Khan, MNA, was de-seated following Supreme Court’s judgment in favour of his rival candidate from PTI Dr Raja Amer Zaman.
Consequently, the Election Commission had to hold bye-election in the constituency now scheduled for August 16, 2015.
This would be the third election since 2013 within a period of 27 months, as two of the rival candidates – one from the PML-N and other from the PTI – have been challenging each other against rigging.
Despite the fact that Omer Ayub Khan has decided to stay away from the electoral race for the reason that he has to look after his ailing mother, Capt (Retd) Mohammad Safdar, a close relative of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, roped in relatively younger and new candidate for the PML-N Babar Nawaz Khan.
Son of former provincial minister late Akhtar Nawaz Khan, Babar Nawaz Khan from Khalabat Township is posing a major challenge to his rival candidate from PTI Dr Raja Aamar Zaman in the length and width of the constituency that runs from Margalla Hills in the east to Ghazi in the west and Tarbela lake on the north to Taxilla in south.
Both the candidates are in the run for winning the seat as they are backed by their respective parties in a manner and the way they are campaigning it is very difficult to assess the real sense among the voters.
“It is very difficult to predict the outcome at this point of time, Babar Nawaz Khan stands better chance to win”, Nasim, a PML-N councillor in Mang village told The Nation.
“In Haripur city, Babar Nawaz Khan is also outweighing his rivals and stands brighter prospect to win.
This is because voters are sick of the old faces now and want a change,” Haji Javed Iqbal, a voter and supporter of Babar Nawaz Khan said.
Elsewhere in the suburbs, towns and villages in the constituency are also expecting the PML-N to retain the seat in bye-polls.
“A very tough and close margin contest between the two candidates is expected,” Malik Arshad, Vice Chairman of village council Gullu Bandi, remarked.
A bird eye view of the election history in NA-19 suggests that traditional rivals Dr Raja Aamar Zaman, a PTI candidate and former minister Omer Ayub Khan, a PML-N ticket holder contested general elections held on May 11, 2013.
Both the candidates were very strong having a strong political family background.
Omer Ayub Khan, son of former National Assembly Speaker Gohar Ayub Khan lost the election against Raja Aamar Zaman.
Dr Raja Aamar Zaman was declared as returned candidate with a lead of some 2,200 votes grabbing over 1,16,000 votes in the election whereas his rival Omer Ayub Khan’s votes were counted as over 1,14,000.
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.
Still, Omer Ayub Khan was not satisfied with recounting of votes and approached election tribunal again with the allegation of rigging by his rival in 78 polling stations of the constituency.
After months long legal battle the election tribunal admitted the plea of Omer Ayoub Khan by declaring only seven polling stations where rigging took place and ordered for re-election in these seven polling stations.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced re-election in those seven polling stations on January 29, 2014.
Dr Raja Aamar Zaman filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the decision of election tribunal and also prayed that if re-election was necessary then election may be conducted in the whole constituency instead of seven polling stations.
Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by the then Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Ch, despite accepting the petition of Dr Raja Aamar Zaman for hearing did not give him any timely relief nor issued stay order to stop the announced election in the seven polling stations till its verdict.
Election Commission deleted the numbers of votes polled in the disputed polling stations, which were polled in the general election.
Deletion of these votes from the total not only led to end lead of Dr Raja Aamar Zaman but he also had to bear a loss of 27 votes.
Now fate of the two candidates depended wholly solely on the outcome of the election of these seven polling stations.
As expected, Omar Ayub Khan won the election on January 29, 2014 by securing a lead of 593 votes of total 2,853 votes polled in his favour against 2,260 votes bagged by his rival Dr Raja Aamar Zaman.
Now political fate of NA-19 will be decided on August 16, 2015.