After being challenged and re-challenged by candidates in the courts, and the government and opposition on the streets, the local government locomotive is set in motion once again. With Peshawar High Court signalling the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce a fresh re-poll schedule in selected areas, political parties are examining the resultant shift in dynamics which re-polls might bring.
The commission issued the official results of 856 district seats and 858 tehsil/town council seats on Thursday.
The 122 disputed district seats, where re-polls will be held, make for only 12.4% of the total seats, 978. A cursory glance at the announced results shows that of the 24 districts, all nine districts of Malakand division are clear of any irregularities. Meanwhile, only one seat each will be contested again in Haripur and Battagram.
Around 5,480 candidates vied for 978 seats at the district-level on May 30. The party that should be least worried about re-polls is Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Gaining momentum from the 2013 general elections, PTI swept through district council seats with 256 winning candidates across the province.
As many as 165 independents managed to seal the deal. With such numbers it only seems like Zero’s paradox of Achilles and the tortoise for the rest of the parties.
However, the results have nonetheless provided Awami National Party with somewhat of a comeback. Outclassed only two years back, it managed to bag 106 seats. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl came fourth with 105 seats while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamaat-e-Islami secured 87 and 71 seats respectively.
The trouble lies in Karak where ballots will be cast again for 15 out of 21 seats (71%). Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s hometown Nowshera falls second where re-polls will be held in 22 of 47 seats (46%). Re-polls results are likely to influence the overall dynamics in the two districts.
Polls will also be held again in Charsadda’s 16 districts (49%), Mardan’s 10 (13%) and Peshawar’s 13 (14%) seats.
Trends were no different in tehsil and town councils where parties gained majorities in their strongholds. As many as 5,907 candidates contested the 978 seats where PTI leads the line with 273 seats. The results of 120 seats (13% of the total) have been withheld due to numerous reasons and re-polls will be held in designated polling stations.
PTI managed to do well in Nowshera as well as in K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser’s hometown Swabi and left PML-N struggling in Abbottabad and Mansehra. PTI also gained clear majority in Haripur.
At least 164 independents managed to win, followed by JUI-F with 120 seats. Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s men managed to do well in Bannu, Tank, DI Khan and Lakki Marwat and managed to gain a majority in three.
JI, ANP and PML-N followed with 96, 78 and 72 seats respectively. JI was able to resist challenges in both Upper Dir and Lower Dir while a seat adjustment was brokered with JUI-F in Chitral.
The Pakistan Peoples Party failed to impress, despite being part of the tripartite alliance of opposition parties, bagging only 38 seats.
Kohat was dominated by independents while Karak remains to be a problem with tehsil/town council seats as well where results for majority of the seats have not been announced.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.