Charsadda: Political Rivals Pose Challenge to Aftab Sherpao, Aimal Wali

Sun Feb 04 2024
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PESHAWAR: With only four days left for the 2024 general elections, candidates from various political parties and independents have focused on campaigning in NA-24 (Charsadda-I), where political stalwarts are mounting a serious challenge to Qaumi Watan Party chairman and former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpa in his native constituency.

Aftab Sherpao, known as the stalwart of ANP and Qumi Watan Party, is once again contesting the elections from his home constituency where he is being challenged by ANP, PTI, JUIF and Pakistan Peoples’ Party candidates.

Sherpao won the elections in 2002, 2008 and 2013 despite defeat in the last election and stepped up the election campaign to convince the voters besides reaching out to the big tribes to get their support.

In the 2013 elections, Sherpao won the constituency with 37,044 votes against Munhamir Khan who got 33,836 votes.

However, Aftab Sherpao later lost to PTI’s Anwar Taj and finished as third.

The women of Charsadda constitute 45% of the registered voters and besides looking for work, they are looking for solutions to their socio-economic, educational and environmental problems.

Voters are demanding the establishment of a medical and cadet college, improved health and educational facilities, and economic empowerment of women.

Meena Taj, an advocate for women’s rights, emphasized the need for economic empowerment, education and a change in social attitudes.

She said existing laws empowering women are seen as ineffective in practice, leading to problems for widows and their children.

Urging elected representatives to effectively enforce harassment laws and develop plans to improve the livelihoods of women at the village level, she said political discourse often focuses on emotions rather than concrete plans.

She stressed the importance of political parties presenting clear manifestos and plans for future development, stressing that focusing on opponents rather than solving problems contributes to divisive politics.

At NA24 Charsadda-II, KP President Aimal Wali is also being challenged by JUIF and PPP candidates in his home constituency.

Aimal Wali Khan, who is the son of ANP president Asfandyar Wali Khan, contested the national assembly elections from his hometown Charsadda after his father is absent from the polls due to health issues.

The history of past elections showed that ANP won the constituency a record six times, while JUI-F three times and PTI only once. During the general elections held between 1970-2018, ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan won this constituency three times, Khan Abdul Wali Khan twice and Begium Nasim Wali Khan once. JUIF’s Maulana Hassan Jan Shaheed secured victory in the 1990 elections and Maulana Gohar Shah won twice while PTI’s Fazal Muhammad Khan once in the last general elections.

In the 1970 elections, ANP chief Abdul Wali Khan won after securing 34,359 votes, while his wife Begum Nasim Wali Khan secured victory on a Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) ticket with 48,653 votes during the 1977 elections.

Abdul Wali Khan regained the seat in the 1998 election after getting 63,185 votes. However, Abdul Wali Khan lost the 1990 elections to Maulana Hasan Jan Shaheed of the JUI-F after the latter got 66,452 votes, leaving the former behind for practical politics.

ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan was elected as a member of the national assembly from this constituency in the 1993 election with 56,164 votes and in the 1997 election with 55,059 votes.

In the 2002 general elections, JUI-F candidate Maulana Gohar Shah secured victory with 55,917 votes, while ANP’s Asfandyar Wali was re-elected in the 2008 elections after securing 38,835 votes.

In the 2013 elections, Maulana Gohar Shah on a JUI-F ticket won the seat again with 53,610 votes and PTI’s Fazal Muhammad achieved a landslide victory in the 2018 elections with 83,596 votes.

Former chairman of the political science department, professor Dr. AH Hilali said that the 2024 elections in Charsadda will determine the popularity of the party.

He said time will tell whether the third generation ANP will emerge victorious or political rivals will regain their seat after PTI won it in the last elections.

The literacy rate in the politically fertile constituency was relatively higher than NA-23 Charsadda-I where the support of other political parties and big clans would matter.

Most of its people are associated with government jobs, agriculture, trade and overseas employment. Contesting candidates began to address small town meetings to convince maximum public support. —APP

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