The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) retained its National Assembly seat from the federal capital and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) added another seat to their provincial assembly tally from Rawalpindi district in the August 22 by-elections.
PTI’s Asad Umar successfully defended the seat vacated by PTI President Javed Hashmi in the general elections. Umar received 48,073 votes — according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) — to defeat PML-N’s candidate Ashraf Gujjar whose support from NA-48 voters totaled 41,186 votes.
Source: Election Commission Of Pakistan
The overall voter turnout in the NA-48 by-elections stood at 32.11 per cent, with 94,257 votes polled out of a registered 293,525 votes.
In Rawalpindi’s PP-6 — the Punjab Assembly seat vacated by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan — the PTI’s Wasiq Qayyum Abbasi was defeated once again.
Khan had won from the constituency as an independent candidate in the general elections, edging past Abbasi by just around 2,500 votes.
On Thursday, PML-N’s Chaudhry Sarfaraz Afzal received 30,588 against Abbasi’s 21,352 to secure his place in the provincial assembly. Afzal’s victory margin over Abbasi was also significantly wider than Nisar’s.
By-polls were conducted in 15 Punjab Assembly constituencies in the province from which PML-N bagged 11. Afzal’s win also means that PML-N now controls nine of the 14 Punjab Assembly seats in Rawalpindi district.
But the PML-N struggled to snatch back the National Assembly seat in the federal capital it had lost in the May 11 elections. PML-N’s Ashraf Gujjar could only come within around 7,000 votes of Umar.
Political workers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad said Abbasi did not plan well for the by-elections while Umar, despite being a Karachiite, conducted a door-to-door campaign and several corner meetings. Umar’s efforts might have also benefited from the Jamaat-e Islami’s withdrawal and grievances of a former PML-N Member National Assembly, Anjum Aqeel Khan.
This was the first time Islamabad had by-elections in the city’s history. The federal capital had only one constituency from 1970 up until 2002, when the capital territory was divided into two separate constituencies.
Even though the candidate list for NA-48 had 22 names, the by-elections results only proved what was already known: the real battle was between PML-N and PTI.
Altogether, the PTI and PML-N candidates received 94.7 per cent of the total votes polled.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Faisal Sakhi Butt, who had finished fourth in the general elections from the same constituency, improved his position by one place, but his vote count fell drastically. He received 3,943 votes, compared to 9,177 the last time around.
The four minor political party candidates and 15 independents in NA-48 only managed to receive 1.1 per cent of the total polled votes.
PP-6 also proved to be a PML-N and PTI fight. Afzal and Abbasi together received 95.6 per cent of the votes polled while Ammar Mehdi Raja of the PPP finished third with just 2,167 votes.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2013.