PML-N roars to victory

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: 

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday extended its winning streak in the country’s biggest ever by-elections, consolidating its grip on power.

The PML-N swept the country’s most populous province, Punjab – which is also its bastion – as it won 11 out of the 15 provincial assembly seats and bagged five out of the six National Assembly seats, according to unofficial results.

Similarly, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also cemented its position in their stronghold province of Sindh.

Among the National Assembly seats, PPP bagged three constituencies, PTI came out on top in two, while the Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) in one constituency each.

Election authorities withheld results from two constituencies of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where women were reportedly disfranchised.

Unexpected upsets

Perhaps the most impressive feat pulled by the party was the victory of Haji Obaidullah Khan Shadi Khel in NA-71 in Mianwali, which was the native constituency of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan. The turn of tides in this constituency is a major political upset for the PTI that had no long-term political strategy in the by-polls – as it had relied solely on the ‘Imran Khan connection’.

In another blow to PTI, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP comfortably won against his rival candidate Gul Badshah in the historically important NA-1 Peshawar seat. With the counting in 199 polling stations being almost complete, Ghulam Bilour led the race after receiving 29,934 votes, and Badshah secured 24,282 votes. Twelve candidates contested among which 8 were independent, two others belonged to the small political parties, while the major contest was between Bilour and Gul Bacha of PTI.

However, PTI managed to secure NA-48 Islamabad that was vacated by the party’s President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi. PTI’s Asad Umar defeated PML-N’s Ashraf Gujjar in this federal capital constituency in Islamabad’s rural areas – a traditional PML-N seat.

PTI also managed to defeat JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s brother, Maulana Attaur Rahman. Maulana Fazl had decided to quit NA-27 Lakki Marwat after he won from NA-24. The PTI candidate (retd) Col Amirullah received 28,500 votes in 175 polling stations, while Maulana Attaur Rahman received 23,770 votes.

PTI’s Sardar Ali Raza Khan Dareeshak won PP-247 by defeating PML-N’s Abdul Qadir Khan Mamdot. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif vacated this seat and the PTI victory serves a political upend for PML-N’s stronghold. Raza Khan is known to have won purely because of his personal vote bank and lineage – he is the son of former federal and provincial minister Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dareeshak.

Meanwhile, another provincial assembly upset took place with yet another PTI victory. Candidate Ahmed Ali Khan Dareeshak won PP-243 by defeating two Khosa brothers who had contested the election on different party tickets. Ahmed Ali Khan won this seat purely because of his party affiliation and campaigning – not his personality – as he snatched the Khosas’ old home seat. PML-N’s Senator Zulfiqar Khan Khosa had vacated this seat after the May 11 election.

Not many surprises here

The PML-N also won the NA-68 seat that was vacated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In NA-129 Lahore, PML-N’s Shazia Mubashir secured an emphatic win. Meanwhile, PPP’s Ghulam Rabbani Khar was leading against Dasti in NA-177 Muzaffargarh until the filing of this report.

PPP’s Shazia Marri made her way to the National Assembly from NA-235 Sanghar, which was no surprise to Sindh. She defeated Khuda Buksh of PML-F’s Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi. Another PPP woman candidate, Meharunnisa, defeated Sarfraz Sherazi of PML-N in NA-237 Thatta in a tough contest.

The MQM swept Karachi – just as they had predicted so robustly. In NA-254 Karachi, MQM’s Muhammad Ali secured a comfortable win against PTI’s Naeem Shaikh. Other Karachi seats were also bagged by the party. In addition, MQM won a Sindh provincial assembly in Mirpurkhas.

Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Abdul Qahar Khan won the only National Assembly seat from Balochistan (NA-262) that went for the by-polls. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Qari Muhaamd Sher Ali secured the second-highest number of votes.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, PTI retained their NA-5 Nowshera and NA-13 Swabi-II seats. Meanwhile, PTI and JUI-F were still battling over the K-P Assembly seats as the votes were still being counted till the filing of this story. JUI-F was leading in PK-70 Bannu-1, while ANP candidate Ahmad Khan Bahadur won in PK-23 Mardan.

There were a total of 519 candidates contesting for 41 seats — 15 of National Assembly and 26 of provincial assemblies constituencies. The election authorities have withheld the results in NA-5 Nowshera and NA-27 Lakki Marwat where women were barred from casting their votes.

The new date for re-polling has not been announced.

The official results still were being compiled by the election authorities till filing of the report.5

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