Will former PM Abbasi contest against Imran Khan in NA-53?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Analysis |

The former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi may confront Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf’s Chairman Imran Khan in National Assembly constituency – (NA)-53 Islamabad.

The PTI chief announced to contest the election from five constituencies of the National Assembly.

According to PTI, Imran Khan will be contesting elections from NA-35 Bannu, NA-53 Islamabad II, NA-95 Mianwali I, NA-131 Lahore IX and NA-243 Karachi.

Abbasi is already contesting from his home constituency NA-57 Rawalpindi 1. It comprises Tehsils of Kotli Satian, Murree, Kahuta, Kallar Sayyedan with a total of 7, 90,632 votes.

Read more: Will Imran Khan win elections from Karachi?

He has won this seat four times from 1988 to 2002 and twice in 2008 and 2013 general elections. His only defeat since he started contesting the elections came in 2002, when Ghulam Murtaza Satti of Pakistan Peoples Party defeated him by 10,462 votes. Since then, Abbasi has never been defeated and is expected to win the upcoming elections with huge margins.

In 2013, he stretched his winning margins to 87,116 votes against his second place opponent Sadaqat Ali Abbasi of PTI.

Since PML-N is unable to find a candidate to make clear inroads against Khan, it is widely expected that Abbasi will contest the elections.

Since there is a large number of people residing in NA-53, from areas such as Kotli Satian, Murree, Kahuta, and Kallar Sayyedan, these people have a strong association with the former PM. A large number of people belonging to Abbasi’s constituency are living in Bhara Kahu, Banigala, Chattar, Tarlai, Mohra nur, Phulgaran, Suhan Dehati, Mouza Shezad town, Lakhwal and other rural areas of NA-53, making Abbasi a formidable candidate to win the next elections.

Though, many other potential candidates including MNA Syed Zafar Ali Shah, M. Sajid Abbasi and UC Phulgran chairman Raja Waqar Mumtaz are waiting to get a nod to contest for PML-N, they lack the stature to fight Khan and therefore, may not be able to convince the top leadership to field any of these candidates.

After the 2018 delimitatios, a new constituency is added in Islamabad. NA-53 is comprised of the areas which were part of NA-48 before.

In the 2013 elections, PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi defeated Anjum Aqeel Khan in NA-48. After Hashmi left the seat, Asad Umar won it in August 2013 defeating a different PML-N candidate Chaudhry Muhammad Ashraf Gujjar.

In 2013, Imran Khan contested elections from NA-1 (Peshawar-II), NA-56 (Rawalpindi-VII), NA-71 (Mianwali-I), and NA-126 (Lahore-IX).

He had lost in Lahore but managed to win the other three.

From NA-71 Mianwali in the Punjab province, Imran secured a huge mandate, bagging 101,000 votes.  But he lost NA-122 Lahore – 5 seat (61,300 votes) – against the former NA Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq (71,420 votes).

Imran faces a tough challenge in the July 25 elections in Lahore and Karachi. If Abbasi contests the elections from Islamabad, it will make it even more interesting.

Some political analysts and pundits believe that PTI l is the next favorite party, upsetting PML-N but reputed magazines like The Economists and Gallup Pakistan have predicted that PML-N has the lead over its opponents.

Read more: PML-N face challenges in distributing tickets to ‘loyalists’

After seeing the public mood and wave of sentiments against Nawaz, many PML-N leaders have switched loyalties. PTI seems to have edge over PML-N which is apparent as a huge number of aspirants’ submitted application to contest on PTI tickets.

PTI may have shown some nerves in recent weeks – Ticket allocation on both national and provincial level is testing the party’s institutional strength. Nevertheless, the chances of PTI’s dominance in Punjab and Imran’s hope to lead this country still hang in the balance.