PTI suffers setback, PML-N gains in by-polls

Imran Khan suffered a major setback losing in country’s biggest by-elections on 41 national and provincial constituencies, the both seats in home town Mianwali and Peshawar he had won and vacated in the May 11 general elections with huge margin.

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Sat 24 Aug 2013, 10:54 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:15 PM

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), however, extended its winning streak consolidating its grip on power.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Awami National Party (ANP) who were routed in the general elections in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, made a comeback of sorts winning one seat each from Muzaffargarh (south Punjab) and Peshawar (KP), while the PPP also securing two more seats in its power bastion Sindh.

The Muthidda Qaumi Party (MQM) won one national and two provincial assemblies seats in Karachi.

The PML-N won five National Assembly seats out of a total of 15 in contention, the PPP three, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf two and the MQM, ANP, and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) of Balochistan one each.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) withheld results of two KP national seats in Nowshera and Lakki Marwat and ordered repolling on some of their polling stations where women were barred from casting votes under mutual agreement of all candidates citing Pushtoon traditions. The ECP also directed that criminal proceedings may be initiated against all those who participated in the decision.

Incidentally, the PTI was leading on both seats with comfortable margin, reclaiming the Nowshera seat vacated by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and beating brother of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

The JUI-F also suffered upsets in KP and Balochistan despite leading a virulent campaign against Imran whom it labelled as agent of Jewish lobby to whom giving vote would earn eternal life in hell. Fazl had won on three seats in May 11 polls and had to vacate two retaining the third in home town Dera Ismail Khan. In Lakki Marwat, he had named his brother Ataur Rehman while on the third in Bannu he put up son Asad Mufti who faces a very formidable rival from Kundi family of the PTI. The ECP postponed election in Bannu for security concerns.

PTI’s top economic wizard, Asad Umar, won comfortably in Islamabad where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had named Ashraf Gujjar as PML-N candidate and staked everything possible to win the prestigious seat.

Dispelling the impression that the outcome of the by-election reflected the declining popularity of Imran Khan, a PTI leader, Ishaq Khakwani said his party did well despite serious upsets on two seats vacated by Imran Khan due, as he put it, to internal party quibbling. It had vacated five National Assembly seats and has won four and is poised to win fifth in Bannu. In Punjab its candidates secured second position after the PML-N in most constituencies besides wresting from the PML-N two important provincial seats in south Punjab. One of these was vacated by Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif while on the second the elder son of Zulfiqar Khosa, president PML-N Punjab, was contesting on traditional ancestral seats.

Khakwani alleged that the chief minister used massive official influence in the by-polls even though the PTI and most analysts otherwise described the elections fair and impartial free from huge irregularities witnessed in the May 11 polls.

Imran rang up Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to felicitate him on his victory in Peshawar where he had defeated him on May 11 by a margin of over 60,000 votes. Bilour was supported by traditional rivals JUI-F, the PPP and the PML-N who had allied with the ANP to beat Imran.

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