PML-N wins lion’s share in by-elections

Ruling party sweeps Punjab; PTI loses in Bajaur, Gujrat; triumphs in DG Khan

Rizwan Shehzad   April 21, 2024


As opposed to the shocking victory of the opposition in the general elections, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had a smooth sailing in the by-elections, as the unofficial results showed that it secured majority of seats of the national and provincial assemblies contested on Sunday.

In fact, the initial results sent shockwaves to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership as it had to face two major upsets in the by-elections in Bajaur, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Gujrat in Punjab.

Independent candidate Mubarak Zeb won both national and provincial assembly seats in Bajaur. Mubarak Zeb is the brother of late Rehan Zeb, also an independent whose murder before the general elections led to the postponement of the election in the constituency.

In Gujrat, meanwhile, Moosa Elahi made history by defeating incarcerated Parvez Elahi, a senior PTI leader and former Punjab chief minister. The unofficial results showed that PML-N’s Ali Pervez Malik won in NA-119, Rasheed Ahmed Khan in NA-143, Adnan Afzal Chattha in PP-36, Muhammad Riaz in PP-147, Ali Ahmed Khan Leghari in PP-290, Chaudhry Muhammad Nawaz in PP-158, Rana Afzaal Hussain in PP-139, Rashid Minhas in PP-164, Saeed Akbar Khan in PP-93, and Ahmed Iqbal Chaudhry in PP-54.

Amid security threats, suspension of mobile and internet services in specific areas and the PTI’s allegations of rigging, the PML-N candidates secured victory on the seats which were vacated by its leaders.

Just like the general elections, the PTI was once again hoping that people would come out to vote for it in the name of incarcerated party founder Imran Khan but apparently it didn’t happen. Despite winning seats in Kohat and Dera Ghazi Khan, PTI leadership claimed that by-polls were rigged.

The by-elections were held on five National Assembly and 16 provincial assembly seats. The contested National Assembly seats were NA-8, Bajaur; NA-44, Dera Ismail Khan; NA-119, Lahore; NA-132, Kasur; and NA-196, Qamber Shahdadkot.

Similarly, the contested provincial assembly seats were PK-22; Bajaur; PK-91, Kohat; PB-20, Khuzdar; PB-22, Lasbella; PP-22, Chakwal-cum-Talagang; PP-32, Gujrat; PP-36, Wazirabad; PP-54, Narowal; PP-93, Bhakkar; PP-139, Sheikhupura; PP-266, Rahim Yar Khan; PP-290, Dera Ghazi Khan and four constituencies in Lahore – PP-147, PP-149, PP-158, and PP-164.

Read more: Army, civil armed forces to be deployed for Sunday’s by-polls

The polling began at 8am and concluded at 5pm, following which the vote counting began. Just like general elections, when mobile and internet services were shut down due to security reasons, cellular services were also suspended temporarily in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan on Sunday.

A day ago, it was reported, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had announced that “cellular services will be temporarily suspended during the by-elections on Sunday and Monday April 22 (today).

The PTA had said that the decision to suspend the cellular services in the areas, where voting would take place, was taken on the directives of the interior ministry to “safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process”.

The National Assembly seats were vacated by political heavyweights like incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

The by-election in Bajaur took place because the voting postponed there after a candidate, Rehan Zeb, was murdered, during the campaigning for the general election held on February 8, according to the ECP officials. The election in Kohat was also postponed because of the death of a candidate.

Shehbaz and Bilawal had vacated one of the two National Assembly seats they had won in February 8 elections. Maryam and Gandapur had given up their National Assembly seats to retain their provincial assembly seats.

The ECP had issued election schedule for a total of National Assembly six seats, 12 of Punjab Assembly, two each of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan and one seat of the Sindh assembly. In NA-207, Nawabshah, vacated by Asif Zardari after his election as the president, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, had already won unopposed.

Read also: Stage set for by-elections

The ECP stated that a total of 239 candidates contested the by-elections, including 50 for the National Assembly seats. Besides 154 candidates were contesting in Punjab, 23 in K-P and 12 in Balochistan, while Zubair Ahmed Junejo was elected unopposed in PP-80, Dadu seat.

The elections dotted with sporadic clashes at from various polling stations. The worst incident took place in Narowal where a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) worker, Muhammad Yousaf, 60, died during clash with the supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

During the clash, it was reported, Yousaf was hit in the head with a stick and, despite being rushed to a local hospital, he could not survive and succumbed to his injuries. Information Minister Attaullah Tarar strongly condemned Yousaf’s killing, saying he was a senior worker of the PML-N.

Apart from the security challenges, the polling was held amid allegations of pre-poll manipulation and suspension of cellular services. To avoid any controversy, the Election Commission of Pakistan had instructed the election staff to ensure that Form 45 was handed over to all polling agents.

In a statement, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja also urged the contesting candidates to ensure that their polling agents collected the Form 45 from the presiding officers before leaving the polling stations.

The ECP said that CEC had sought reports from the provincial chief secretaries about the day-long election process and inquired about electioneering activities. The CEC also directed the commissioners and deputy commissioners concerned, to guarantee transparent elections.

Meanwhile, the ECP said, the CEC sought a report from the inspector general of Balochistan police regarding the intrusion of armed individuals into a polling station of PB-50 Qilla Abdullah and ordered strict action against the perpetrators.

The statement said that a report was sought from the Balochistan provincial election commissioner and the deputy commissioner of Qilla Abdullah regarding the reported abduction of polling staff in the same constituency.

The ECP said that the DC of Qila Abdullah had verbally informed that no abduction of polling staff occurred in the district.

The ECP added that a written report was sought in this regard to give a decision on the complaints.

The ECP further said in its statement that the CEC had also contacted the district police officer of Narwal and ordered him to submit a report on the death of a PML-N worker. It added that the CEC ordered strict action against those responsible.

The results for the PTI were mixed in K-P where the provincially-ruling party grabbed two of the four seats. The Bajaur district, where independent Mubarak Zeb won both the national and provincial assembly seats, would have to vacate one of them.

The PTI’s candidates contested the elections from the platform of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) in the province. It retained the Dera Ismail Khan seat, which was vacated by Chief Minister Gandapur. The SIC also won the contest in Kohat.


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