Peshawar to witness tough electoral battle between Bilour, Imran

PESHAWAR: The Nation Assembly Constituency NA-I Peshawar-1 that witnessed historic electoral bouts among the heavyweights in the past, will witness yet another tough contest in 2013 elections as PTI Chief Imran Khan has challenged the four times winner Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour.

The electoral scenario in the constituency has changed after Imran Khan’s decision to contest from NA-1 throwing a serious challenge to Bilour, and other candidates of the PPP, PML(N), JI and JUI (F).

The constituency comprises around thirteen Urban Union Councils and Twelve rural union councils of Peshawar metropolis. Traditionally this seat has never been monopolized by a single political entity as it has been won by the PPP, ANP, MMA and PML in the past.

In 1977 the Peshawar seat was won by PML stalwart Yusaf Khattak. However the then opposition parties at that time gathered under the umbrella of PNA and rejected the electoral result of 1977 elections and as such this fiasco ended up with the imposition of martial law by Gen Zia-ul-Haq.

In the party less election, conducted during the tenure of Gen Zia in 1985, the PML stalwart late Younas Elahi Sethi emerged victorious after defeating Zafar Ali Shah. The 1985 Assembly lasted for three years as it was dissolved on May 29, 1988 by Gen Zia dismissing the government of PM Muhammad Khan Junejo.

In the 1988 general elections NA-1 Peshawar-1 seat was won by Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao defeating ANP’s Ghulam Bilour. However Mr. Sherpao vacated the seat after he opted for the provincial assembly and become chief minister. Haji Bilour won the seat in the by-election in 1988 with support of PPP.

In the elections of 1990 surprisingly Haji Bilour defeated Benazir Bhutto from this seat that became a blow for the PPP workers in the area.

In the electoral battle of 1993 Syed Zafar Ali Shah of PPP defeated Haji Bilour. Haji Ghulam Bilour retained the national assembly seat in the 1997 elections by defeating Syed Qamar Abbas of PPP.

The provincial metropolis, Peshawar City is abode of two major linguistic communities Hindko speaking people who are the old inhabitants of ancient walled city and Pathans who choose the city owing to its economic activities resulting from its proximity to bordering Afghanistan.

The votes of Mohmand and Safi Phatan communities have played a decisive role in the political battle in the past and their affiliations can help a contestant to materialize his dreams to become a member of parliament.

ANP also claimed support of the settlers of Mohmand Agency in the area and presence of two members of Bilour family, Ghazanfar from PK-1, Haroon Bilour from PK-3 in political arena as provincial assembly candidates would produce synergistic effects on the political campaign of Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour.

All major political parties are eyeing on the National Constituency NA-1 however prediction could not possible as right of franchise is yet to exercise by the voters who are capable to decide the fate of contestants.

The PPP and PML(N) have fielded insignificant candidates Zulfiqar Afghani and Afzal Khan Panyala respectively from the constituency who had never been given party tickets in the past to contest the polls. The real battle to occur between the Bilour and Imran Khan in the constituency as the latter has garnered the support of the youth.