Seat adjustments seemingly unlikely as election looms

PESHAWAR: In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), with only one month left to go before elections, the political chessboard is going into overdrive as players decide on difficult matters like seat distribution and ticket allocation in order to effectively oppose the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) powerhouse in the region.
The PTI’s support base and popularity in K-P remain strong despite the party’s disfavor with the establishment, criticism over May 9, and the jail of its founding chairman. This appears to be causing the opposition in the province great anxiety.
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In order to prevent the PTI from forming a third successive government in the province on February 8, mainstream K-P parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), as well as newcomers like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Parliamentarians (PTI-P), appear to be rushing to form alliances.
In order to address this, the JUI-F established a negotiation committee, which is chaired by Maulana Atta-ur-Rehman and has recently met with representatives of the ANP, PPP, and PML-N.
In an interview with the Express Tribune regarding the seat adjustment procedure, the negotiation committee’s spokesperson, Maulana Abdul Jalil Jan, verified that the committee had held meetings with influential provincial politicians.
“Yet an ultimate determination has not yet been made,” stated Jan.”Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman will take the final decision in the next few days after reviewing the party’s electoral position in all districts,” Jan said in response to a question about when the decision would be made.
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Similarly, Gohar Ali Inqilabi, the PPP’s K-P Information Secretary, stated that no decisions had been made regarding seat changes as of yet.
“If the PPP has a seat adjustment plan at the provincial level, it will probably come to pass after the nomination papers are withdrawn on January 12th,” Inqilabi stated.
The ANP and PPP share a similar position. The party’s information secretary and spokeswoman, Samar Haroon Bilour, told the Express Tribune that talks had taken place with a number of parties, but no decision had been made at this time. “Everyone is invited to the ANP with open arms. But the ANP has no problem running a lone candidate in elections if seat adjustments are not made, according to Bilour.
Though the party has held discussions with other stakeholders, Ikhtiar Wali, the former parliamentary leader of the PML-N in the K-P Assembly, agreed with Bilour that no final decision has been made regarding seat allocation.
“We will enter the election on our own strength if seat adjustments are not made.”In contrast, Parvez Khattak, the PTI-P’s founding chairman and the province’s chief minister, stated in an exclusive interview with the Express Tribune that his party did not form any alliances in order to prepare for the elections.
“There won’t be any seat modifications made. Khattak declared, “We will fight elections based on the strength of our political manifesto and public support.
“Your competitors win you elections; unity with others does not.” Thus, on election day, whichever party modifies seats will lose,” he forecast.