PTI loses PM Imran vacated seats in by-polls

By-elections reportedly cost Rs28 billion

News Desk October 15, 2018
A woman casts vote during by-polls. PHOTO: ONLINE

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) may have clinched the most seats in by-elections but it suffered a setback in two of the four seats vacated by its party chief Imran Khan.

Results from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) show PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged four National Assembly constituencies each while Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) managed to grab one.

In the provincial assemblies, the ruling party clinched five and six seats in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa respectively while PML-N could only manage one in K-P. The party won six in Punjab.

A total of 11 NA and 24 provincial assembly seats were up for grab during the October 14 by-elections.

Despite an overall victory, the ruling party missed the chance to retain two of the seats vacated by Imran.

In the July 25 polls, NA-35 (Bannu) had voted for PTI with Imran pulling in 113,843 votes. The by-polls, however, painted a dim picture. MMA leader Zahid Akram Durrani bagged a total of 60,944 votes to beat PTI candidate Naseem Ali Shah, who received 37,489 votes.

Each expat vote cost Rs15,000

One of the most hyped constituencies, however, was that of NA-131 (Lahore IX). The by-polls saw Rafique lead with over 10,000 votes against PTI leader Humayun Akhtar’s 50,445 votes.

In the same constituency, Imran had pulled in 84, 531 votes – winning with a thin margin. Upon the PML-N leader’s plea, the returning officer held a partial recount which sustained PM Imran’s victory. In the final count, Rafique lost the seat with a margin of 608 votes. Rafique’s request for a full recount was turned down by the RO.

Rafique’s request, however, was accepted by the Lahore High Court (LHC) – only to be turned down by the Supreme Court (SC) on a petition filed by the prime minister challenging LHC decision.

Rubbing in the win, the former railways minister tweeted on Monday that the PTI chief may have deferred for a recount but the mandate chose Rafique.

PTI retained NA-53 (Islamabad I) and NA-243 (Karachi East II) with Ali Nawaz Awan pulling in 50,943 and Mohammad Alamgir Khan grabbing 37,035 votes – almost twice that of their opponents.

Since there is no limit to the number of constituencies a candidate can contest, most politicians take advantage of the system that offers them a fall-back option at the expense of the national exchequer.

PML-N improves showing in NA, PA

The by-polls do not just impact making of the assemblies but it drains the country financially as well. Reportedly, the by-elections cost a whopping Rs28 billion. While each i-vote, the facility extended to overseas Pakistanis for voting, cost Rs15, 000.

In 2004, the ECP had suggested allowing a candidate to contest from more than one constituency on a pre-requisite that he or she will be liable for the expense of a by-election. The amendment, however, was not passed.

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