Nawaz Sharif is all set to form a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in the Centre for the third time, after his party emerged as the clear leader according to the unofficial results of the 2013 elections.
Millions turned out to cast their votes on Saturday, largely rejecting the former ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Many idols fell as Pakistanis voted for new faces in the National Assembly from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which has emerged as the second largest political force, surpassing the PPP and others.
Although, results are yet to be officially announced, Nawaz was quick to declare victory as he addressed his supporters outside his Model Town residence in Lahore. “We are thankful to Allah for giving the PML-N another chance to serve Pakistan,” he said in his brief address.
“Now, pray that we (the PML-N) get am absolute majority in assembly,” he said. The PML-N chief, however, indicated that if needed he would be willing to form a coalition with other smaller parties.
Nawaz also announced that he would forgive “all those who abused” him and his brother and former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Nawaz served as prime minister from 1990 to 1993, before he was sacked by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. His second term lasted from1997 to 1999, when he was deposed by the Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
The province of the Punjab holds the key to the making or breaking of governments, owing to its 148 general seats in the National Assembly that were, this time, dominated by the N-League. Nawaz Sharif’s party reclaimed almost all those seats won by the PPP in the 2008 elections.
According to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif won his NA-120 constituency, and Shahbaz Sharif won NA-129.
PTI chairman Imran Khan lost NA-122 to Sardar Ayaz Sadiq after a close competition. However, PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood and Hamid Khan advocate won NA-126 and NA-125 respectively. This makes the PTI Punjab’s second largest party.
The PPP did not fare as well, with many of its major leaders losing by large margins in some cases.
Saturday’s polls were historic not only for being the first democratic transition in the country’s history, but also in terms of the turnover, especially given the security situation in the country.
The polls’ interim results disproved all negative assessments about Imran Khan’s PTI, which performed beyond the expectations of many. Imran won his native seat from Mianwali, after defeating his arch rival, veteran politician Obaidullah Khan Shadikhel, by a margin of about 60,000 votes.
The PTI appears to be filling the gap created by the PPP and its allies, whose last five year stint was mired with allegations of corruption, mismanagement, economic downturn and lawlessness.
The PPP maintained a good record in its traditional stronghold – Sindh. Senior politicians Syed Naveed Qamar and Syed Khursheed Shah retained their respective seats with handsome leads. According to unofficial results, however, former ministers Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Mian Manzoor Wattoo and two-time winner from Sargodha Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi lost the elections.
With Qureshi and Afzal Gondals’ defeat in Sargodha, the PPP has lost its chances of winning any seat from the five seats of Sargodha district. Unconfirmed results suggested that the PML-N dominated the district, as well as Faisalabad district’s 10 contested seats.
However, not everyone in the PML-N was a winner. Some big names in the party, particularly ones from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, failed to bag majority votes. Muhammad Shakeel Awan from NA-55 lost to Awami Muslim League (AML) leader and veteran politician Sheikh Rashid Ahmed; Hanif Abbasi was in tough competition with Imran Khan for NA-56, while the PML-N also lost one of its two previous seats in Islamabad, which was claimed this time by PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, who defeated N-League’s Anjum Aqeel Khan by a big margin.
The fractured PML-Quaid, which boasted 54 seats in the previous assembly, was able to retain only a handful of seats. PPP ally, the embattled Awami National Party (ANP), which ruled Khyber-Pakhtounkhwa (K-P), was almost completely wiped out. All its central leaders, including its chief Asfandyar Wali, failed to retain their seats.
A significant number of assembly seats were won by independent candidates, who, according to unofficial results, numbered over 20. Political pundits predict that most of them would swing towards the majority party in the National Assembly – the PML-N.
According to the unofficial results, in Sindh the PPP has won nine National Assembly seats; MQM has won seven; PML-F one, and JI has failed to win any.
In Balochistan, the National Party and PkMAP won two seats each, and the PML-N and BNP-Mengal won a seat each.
In Peshawar, PTI is leading in all four NA seats.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2013.