Polling for eleven (11) National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament and twenty-four (24) provincial seats saw fierce competition between newly elected PTI and the main opposition PML-N in Pakistan. Pakistan’s ruling party under new PM Imran Khan failed to get a clear majority in parliament after key by-elections. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won 15 seats of the total 36. The PTI won eleven (11) seats of the provincial assemblies while the PML-N won seven (07).
Shockingly for PTI, it lost two of its seats vacated by its chief and PM Imran Khan. His seat in Lahore was won by former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N and in Bannu by Zahid Akram Durrani of the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) party.
However, what is noteworthy is that the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) increased its seat count to 85. As seen above, in the by-elections on 24 provincial assembly seats eleven (11) in Punjab, nine (09) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two (02) each in Sindh and Balochistan), the PTI was leading in nine constituencies (four in Punjab and five in KP) while the PML-N was ahead in six constituencies (five in Punjab and one in KP).
PML-N rises from the Phoenix
What does this improved poll performance by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the by-elections indicate? Such a tilt in less than three months after general elections sure must be disturbing for Imran Khan and reassuring for ousted former PM Nawaz Sharif. The fact that people came out to poll in large numbers is itself indicative of an uncertain future for PTI.
In the by-elections, Sharif’s PML-N managed not only to improve its position in the National Assembly by bagging four (04) NA seats but also extended gains in the Punjab provincial assembly by securing five (05) more seats.
Former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi emerged victorious in the by-election and PML-N even nearly won from the Rawalpindi constituency. These results most certainly send out a message and are indicative of the times to come.
Overseas voters could be game changers but are they even interested in a failed state?
For the first time in Pakistan’s history, overseas voters were allowed to vote. These voters can play a decisive role in six constituencies. The ECP had allowed the overseas Pakistanis to vote on an experimental basis on the directive of the Supreme Court. The margin of victory is very low in one National Assembly, three Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and two Punjab Assembly seats and the results can change after the votes of overseas Pakistanis are included. A decision regarding whether to include the votes of overseas Pakistanis in the final results will be taken during a meeting between officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
People tired of GHQ-PTI in 58 days
The outcome of the by-election won’t impact the federal or provincial government but will help reinvigorate the opposition parties. The release from jail of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his daughter Maryam Nawaz has rekindled hopes for the PML-N Nawaz camp.
Reports suggest that intra-party rifts have already started plaguing PTI and this was one of the reasons for the party’s poor performance in some constituencies. Other issues like fake austerity measures, subjugation of polity to the military, no measures to improve the debt-ridden economy – CPEC, forced crowdfunding diktats, rising inflation, anti-encroachment campaigns, and governments silence over Un-Islamic activities of China impacted the voters’ sentiment.
Take home for Imran Khan, PTI
As is known the elections in Pakistan were not a fair play; tainted, merely an eyewash, a total death of democracy where in the major opposition leaders were held captive in order to facilitate the rise of a deep state courtier. How far will deep state lug this new courtier (newly elected government)will be interesting to see.
The only way PTI can strike a chord with the voters to make its presence felt would be when the voters see PTI working independently and not in a sheltered appointment as is seen presently. The by-elections have indicated to Imran Khan that he will have to break the shell soon & step out of his “puppet” “ceremonial” role in order to re-kindle faith of the people of Pakistan where democracy has died a million deaths at the hands of the establishment. How he got elected then will become immaterial, what he does will remain with the people, for that he will have to get back to his fiery self who voiced the wrong done by the establishment until a few years ago. If only he does things in accordance of what he had promised and not succumb to the orders from the establishment, will PTI ever make history else PML-N won’t take long to attack from the flanks and annihilate PTI.
16 Oct 2018/ Tuesday Written by Afsana