ISLAMABAD: After Musharraf’s ineligibility to stand for elections from NA-32 (Chitral), All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) candidate Shahzada Iftekharuddin is unlikely to win as he is not liked in the area due to his feudal background, a survey carried out by Business Recorder reveals.
Support for Musharraf, however, remains strong mainly for the development projects carried out during his tenure including Lowari Tunnel, Mastuj Bridge and Shandur Road. Till April 16 when an election tribunal of Peshawar High Court (PHC) rejected Musharraf’s nomination papers form Chitral, all other candidates were double-minded about their campaigns, thinking that in the presence of Musharraf they would lose.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) candidates challenged the decision of the returning officer Chitral who had accepted Musharraf’s nomination papers and public anger against these two for disqualifying the only man in Pakistan’s history who undertook any development work in Chitral implies that neither JI nor PTI candidate would win form Chitral.
The APML candidates are also in trouble. People of Chitral voted Shahzada Mohiuddin – a former MNA, and Haji Ghulam Mohammad of PML-Q in 2008 mainly for Musharraf’s sake. APMLs Shahzada Mohiuddin’s two sons Shahzada Iftekharuddin and Shahzada Khalid Pervez will stand for a national and provincial assembly seats and Ghulam Mohammad also of APML is contesting from another provincial seat.
Sources said that Shahzada Mohiuddin has decided to persuade the JUI-F candidate to withdraw from the NA race in return for support in the provincial assembly seat of PK-89. He has reportedly offered to withdraw his son Pervez Khalid from PK-89 in support of JUI-F. The JUI-F has solid vote bank in Chitral and in case of any understanding with the APML, both the parties can make their position stronger.
Despite claiming his chances of winning the NA seat is 90 per cent after Musharraf’s exit, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali will still face serious opposition as religious vote is split unlike in 2002 and failure of JUI-F and Chitrali’s Jamaat-e-Islami to forge an alliance has divided the religious votes in Chitral.
However, in a new development many people in upper Chitral, who have been traditional voters of Shahzada Mohiuddin and others, are said to be leaning towards Maulana Chitrali who may get substantial votes in the area this time.
When contacted, some locals told this correspondent on the phone that disqualification of Gen Pervez Musharraf will make no difference and no power in the world can affect his popularity at least in Chitral for his service to the area especially construction of Lowari tunnel.
When asked whether APML candidates will emerge victorious, they said that if PPP can cash in on the name of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto even after passage of 4 decades why can not Musharraf?
Taj Muhammad Khan, a civil society activist said that Musharraf has been trapped in false and fabricated cases, and we the Chitralis are just waiting for May 11 to give a tit-for-tat response to those who disqualified him without any reason.
“This is too much…Musharraf has been singled out on the pressure of black coats [lawyers]. If they were so brave, why did they not apply the same rules on Pervez Ashraf [former PM], Sheikh Waqas Akram [former education minister whose degrees were declared fake] and so on and so forth,” he questioned.