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Bajaur By-election Dynamics Shift Amid Political Turbulence

As the by-election approaches, all eyes are on Bajaur, where a showdown of political wills is set to unfold on April 21.

by Muhammad Bilal Yasir - 18 Apr, 2024 1811

The upcoming by-elections for 23 vacant seats in both the National and Provincial Assemblies, scheduled for April 21, have garnered significant attention due to recent political developments in Bajaur district. A total of 239 candidates are set to participate in the by-elections, with 50 vying for the vacant National Assembly seats.

However, the electoral landscape in Bajaur took a tragic turn on March 31 when PTI leader and independent candidate for NA-8 and PK-22, Rehan Zeb Khan, was fatally shot by unknown assailants at Phatak Chowk. Consequently, the elections for both constituencies were postponed.

In the previous general election held on February 8, PTI candidates, Dr. Hameed-ur-Rehman, Anwar Zeib Khan, and Engineer Ajmal Khan, emerged victorious in three constituencies. However, the scenario has since undergone a notable change.

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The by-election now sees Engineer Ajmal Khan's younger brother, former MNA Guldad Khan, and Gul Zafar Khan, the brother-in-law of Dr. Hameed-ur-Rehman, nominated as Sunni Ittehad Council (PTI) candidates. Yet, the unexpected entry of Mubarak Zeb Khan, brother of the late Rehan Zeb, has complicated matters. Refusing government offers to replace his deceased brother, Mubarak Zeb has decided to contest independently, rallying significant support from disaffected PTI workers.

Mubarak Zeb Khan's political clout stems from his establishment of the "Youth of Bajaur" organization, comprising over three thousand educated and active youths. Their unwavering support has propelled Mubarak Zeb's campaign, eclipsing the rallies of PTI candidates Gul Zafar Khan and Guldad Khan.

Analysts attribute Mubarak Zeb Khan's burgeoning popularity to a significant sympathy vote, garnered in the wake of his brother's tragic demise. PTI members and opposition parties alike have rallied behind him, viewing his candidacy as a symbol of justice and retribution.

Despite PTI's attempts to regain control, sentiments have shifted drastically in Mubarak Zeb's favor. Allegations of bribery and political maneuvering have further emboldened his resolve to challenge the status quo. In an exclusive interview, Mubarak Zeb revealed that he was offered Rs 7 crore and a government job to withdraw from the election, an offer he vehemently refused.

Undeterred by PTI's overtures, Mubarak Zeb remains resolute in his commitment to the people of Bajaur, vowing to uphold their interests against entrenched political forces. As the by-election approaches, all eyes are on Bajaur, where a showdown of political wills is set to unfold on April 21.