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.
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.
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.