As the February 8 general elections approach, uncertainty surrounds the fate of three National Assembly seats in the federal capital, with major political parties like PML-N, PTI, and PPP facing internal rifts and challenges. The electorate’s disassociation from the elections is attributed to soaring food inflation, rising utility bills, and unaffordable education costs, as people perceive elections as a means for the elite class to pursue power rather than address citizens’ concerns.
Electioneering in Islamabad has been notably slow, particularly by mainstream political parties, leaving voters unsure about their choices. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lists approximately 180 candidates from various parties and independents contending for the three constituencies.
Internal conflicts within major parties have surfaced, leading to multiple candidates initially filing nomination papers for one seat. While some withdrew after party ticket allocations, the resultant split among their supporters could favor independent candidates like Mustafa Nawaz Khokar.
Prominent contenders in the three NA seats include Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Anjum Aqeel Khan, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry (PML-N); Sibtul Haider Bukhari, Raja Imran Ashraf, Chaudhry Asad (PPP); Mian Muhammad Aslam (JI); Shoaib Shaheen, Ali Bukhari, Amir Mughal (PTI); and Khurram Nawaz (IPP).
Despite PTI’s stronghold in the capital since 2018, the decision to introduce new faces has raised concerns among voters, potentially impacting the party’s standing. PML-N faced setbacks due to seat adjustment agreements, causing adjustments in candidate selections.
PPP has been criticized for promoting hereditary politics, nominating relatives of prominent party members for the three NA seats. The capital’s public issues, such as the absence of a local government system, waste disposal problems, and inadequate public services, remain key concerns for voters.
Former senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar highlights the need for a proper local government system to address civic service disparities in different parts of the capital. As the elections unfold, the outcome in the federal capital remains uncertain amid the complexities and challenges faced by major political players.