ISLAMABAD .: Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf pulled a major shocker on the former ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, by securing a significant lead in the National Assembly race.
The rumour mill, casting uncertainty over the fate of the general polls, was silenced on Wednesday with the conduct of country’s largest electoral exercise for the NA and four provincial assemblies that gave the PTI an edge over its arch-rivals the PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
According to the results, PTI, till the filing of this report late on Wednesday, was leading the charts with 108 seats, followed by PML-N with 69 seats and PPP with 39 seats.
Independents came next with 18 National Assembly seats. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of religious parties including Jamiat-e-Ulam-e-Islam Fazl and Jamat-e-Islami were leading on 12 seats, Muttahida Qaumi Movement on eight, Grand Democratic Alliance on four seats, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam on three, and Awami National Party on two, while the results of other seats remained unconfirmed.
In Punjab, however, PML-N was ahead of PTI by a thin margin. It was poised to grab 132 seats, followed by PTI with 123 seats, and eight independent candidates.
In the light of Section 13 (3) of the Elections Act 2017, the ECP was bound to declare the results by 2am Thursday. This section reads “The returning officer shall compile the provisional results forthwith and, on or before 2am the day immediately following the polling day, communicate these results electronically to the commission: provided that if, for any reason, the results are incomplete at that time, the returning officer shall communicate to the commission reasons thereof, listing the polling stations from which results are awaited, and send the complete provisional results as soon as the results are compiled.”
Till late night, the unofficial results of NA and provincial assemblies’ seats were arriving smoothly and aired in the national media before the results of some key constituencies including those of Lahore, Islamabad and other major cities stopped being shared with the media by the returning officers and ECP. This allowed political parties to cry foul saying that the elections were “massively rigged” and that the Form 45, a key electoral document that contains details of voters, was not shared with political parties.
The N-League rejected the election results. PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif accused the ECP of “expelling all of PML-N’s polling agents during the counting of the votes and closing the doors on them and cooking something fishy behind closed doors.”
However, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad denied these accusations saying one agent from a political party was allowed at every polling station during the counting.
Shehbaz said he would announce the next course of action against what he termed was ‘unprecedented rigging’ soon. “I never saw this kind of scary scenario in my entire political career,” the PML-N president said while addressing a press conference in Lahore.
PPP’s Vice President Sherry Rehman tweeted, “Results still not being given in many key constituencies and counting being done after PPP polling agents thrown out. This is happening as we speak even in [Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s] constituencies. No Form 45 being given to our polling agents. Not acceptable.”
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also alleged foul playing while announcing an ‘All Parties Conference’ to take up the matter.
In an embarrassment for the ECP and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), the much-hyped Result Transmission System that envisaged speedy and authentic dissemination of election results broke down. Reports suggested that the RTS could not sustain the burden of the election results of 85,000 polling stations, which caused a delay in the arrival of election results.
However, NADRA denied that the RMS broke down and said it was working and was fully functional.
ECP Spokesperson Nadeem Qasim said that “different causes” were responsible for the delay in announcement of election results. He said any RO who would send results after 2 am would be responsible to justify the delay on their part. He said the ECP did not announce any official result and all the results aired by the media were unconfirmed.
The elections were generally held in a peaceful environment, barring the deadly terrorist attack outside a polling station in Quetta that claimed 31 lives, and a few other minor incidents of violence.
Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk, who cast his vote in his town of Swat at Gulkaka polling station (NA-3 Swat-II Pk- Swat IV), “congratulated the nation on the successful conduct of general elections 2018.” He “appreciated the efforts of Election Commission of Pakistan, provincial governments, Armed Forces, police, law enforcement agencies, election staff, media and all those institutions and individuals who contributed to the conduct of the elections. While condemning the cowardly act of terrorism in Quetta, Balochistan, he condoled with the bereaved families of all those who were martyred in the incident and prayed for the early recovery of the injured.”
According to unofficial results, the PTI and the PML-N have got almost equal strength by bagging respectively 75 and 73 seats from the 297 seats of the Punjab Assembly on which direct election was held on Wednesday.
It will be interesting now to see which of these parties form a government in Pakistan’s largest province which the PML-N has been ruling for the last decade.
PPP dominates Sindh
The Pakistan People Party (PPP) will return to the Sindh Assembly with a simple majority. According to the initial results, the PPP should take home 71 seats in a house of 130 seats. Interestingly, the PTI has emerged as the second largest political force in the province, dethroning the MQM.
“According to 12 per cent results released so far, the PTI has a majority in 20 Sindh Assembly constituencies,” said an ECP official while requesting not be named said. According to reports, the MQM was leading in 17 provincial constituencies till the filing of this report. The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), an alliance of a number of Sindh specific parties, has got only two seats.
The PPP’s Nafisa Shah secured around 46,458 votes and defeated the GDA’s Ghouse Ali Shah who could get only 1,609 votes. The PPP’s Aftab Shahban Mirani, who was contesting from NA-202, Kamber Shahdadkot defeated the GDA’s Nasir Mehmood Soomro.
The PPP’s Khursheed Shah also led in his traditional constituency. The unconfirmed reports said the PPP’s Abid Bhayo, who ran for the NA-198 Shikarpur, was also the leading candidate.
The PPP swept polls in district Thatta by securing all NA and Sindh Assembly seats. Till the filing of the report, the competition in Badin was still neck and neck.
According to unconfirmed reports, the PPP was leading at NA-246 Lyari from where the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto contested. Bilawal was also leading at the NA-200 Larkana. According to unofficial and incomplete results, he secured 24,000 votes against the MMA candidates Rashid Soormro.
The GDA candidate Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi won a seat from Pir Jo Goth in Khairpur Mirs.
Official sources said hardly 11 per cent results of Sindh have been declared and it will take time to finalise them. In Karachi, the PTI chief Imran Khan got more votes than the MQM’s Ali Raza Abidi.
The MQM’s Farooq Sattar was also facing a tough competition at the NA-247 constituency of Karachi where the PTI’s Arif Alvi contested against him.
PTI secures simple majority in K-P
The PTI stands victorious for the second consecutive time in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa securing an unprecedented simple majority in the assembly of 124 members.
As per the unofficial results of the K-P Assembly, the PTI was leading by securing around 60 seats from the total 97 general seats on which elections were held on Wednesday.
The PTI was followed by the MMA which was leading on 11 constituencies and the ANP which had bagged 8 seats. The PML-N and the PPP secured three seats each according to the unofficial results.
As per the incomplete and unofficial results from the polling stations, the PTI’s victory broke the myth that voters in the K-P do not bring a party for the second consecutive term.
The PTI had got only 35 general seats in the 2013 elections and it made an alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP).
However, results of the 2018 general polls show a clear majority for the PTI which means that the PTI will also be at liberty to do whatever it claims in its manifesto in the presence of a very weak opposition, unlike its previous tenure in which it had to take along its allies.
Sources in the PTI said in case the party secures a simple majority, former minister for elementary and secondary education Atif Khan will be the new chief minister of K-P, while former chief minister Pervez Khattak will retain his national assembly seat of NA-25 Nowshera.
They said former minister for health Shahram Khan Tarakai and the PTI senior leader from Swat, Dr Haider Ali, are also aspiring for the position of CM.
As the results started pouring in the PTI’s favour, hundreds of its supporters and activists took to the streets with music system on their vehicles and firing cracker in the air to celebrate their party victory.
BAP leads in Balochistan
The newly-formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) has emerged as the leading party in Balochistan after it grabs 13 Balochistan Assembly seats. The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) is in the second position with nine seats, according to the official data of the ECP released on its website.
The MMA managed to bag seven Balochistan Assembly seats. Till the filing of the report, results of the National Assembly seats were yet to be announced.
However, the unofficial data from 76 polling stations at NA-272 of Gwadar and Lasbela, the BAP’s Jam Kamal was leading with a total of 18,143 votes. Independent Aslam Bhotani was in second place with 16,799 votes while BNP-M’s Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal stood third in the contest with 8,117 votes.
According to unofficial results total 28 polling stations at the NA-271, the BNP-Awami’s Ahsan Shah was on leading followed by BAP’s Zubeda Jalal and the BNP-M’s Jan Muhammad Dashti.
At NA-265 constituency of Quetta, the contest was among the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the MMA’s Hafiz Hamdullah, the PTI’s Qasim Suri and the PML-N’s Raheela Hameed Durrani. However, vote counting was under way till the filing of this report.
According to reports, BAP’s candidate at PB-09 Kohlu Nawab Jangez Marri boycotted elections, alleging that elections were rigged by the PTI’s candidate Naseebullah Marri.
At the PB-36 Shaheed Sikandar Abad, independent candidate Mir Naimatullah Zehri won the election by receiving 11,280 votes. His stepbrother and the BNP-Awami’s candidate Mir Zafarullah Zehri bagged 9,991 votes.