PTI played big gamble in Jhelum district with awarding both national assembly seats to one family. It was clear that PTI ticket in NA-67 will goes to PTI spokesman Ch. Fawad Hussain but surprisingly the ticket in NA-66 Jhelum (i) was awarded to his cousin Ch. Farrukh Altaf. PTI hoped to win both seats of national assembly from this garrison district. Now the question is whether both cousins will be able to win the elections or not.
The PTI ignored the ticket holder of 2013 general election Ch. Saqlain in NA-67 who secured 62800 votes against PML-N candidate Ch. Nadeem Khadim who won the election with more than one hundred thousand (100000) votes. Ch. Farrukh Altaf got 36800 votes on PML-Q ticket.
Ch. Saqlain announced to contest the July 25th general elections as an independent candidate. Ch. Saqlain is a former member of provincial assembly from Dina and Suhawah and enjoys considerable support in this constituency. He can damage the PTI vote bank as he played important role in the organization of PTI in this area. He was hopeful to get PTI ticket on the basis of his previous electoral performance and active role in the PTI rallies and public meeting.
PML-N candidate Ch. Nadeem Khadim seems in strong position against Ch. Farrukh Altaf of PTI in NA-67. He expected to win the July 25th general elections in this constituency. He was worried that he could face stiff competition from Ch. Saqlain but when PTI issued ticket to Farrukh Altaf instead, he is confident to pull out victory against him.
PML-N candidate Iqbal Mehdi Khan won the NA-63 now NA-67 in 2013 general elections with huge margin. He secured 1, 16,000 votes and defeated Mirza Mehmood Baig of PTI who got 42800 votes. So the margin of the victory was nearly 74,000 votes. Ch. Fawad got 34800 votes on PML-Q ticket. But in the bye-election held due to the death of PML-N legislature Iqbal Mehdi Khan, Ch. Fawad got more than 72000 votes but still lost to PML-N candidate.
A close fight is expected in NA-67 between PML-N and PTI candidates. It is difficult to predict the outcome on July 25th in this closely contested constituency. PTI took a big risk and issued both tickets to the same family. This decision could cost PTI both the seats.
PML-N is the strongest party in this district. It won most of the elections in this district since 1988. Ch. Altaf Hussain former governor of Punjab and late father of Farrukh Altaf won one national assembly seat in 1990. PPP lost all the elections since then. In 2002, PML-Q won most seats in Jhelum. In 2013, PML-N won all the national and provincial assembly seats from here.
Khalid Bhatti ACE News Election Cell