Monday, October 17, 2022
In a setback to the ruling coalition parties, PTI Chairman Imran Khan — who was contesting from seven constituencies — Sunday won the by-elections in six of eight National Assembly seats up for grabs across Pakistan, as per unofficial results.
The PTI chief won the seats in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Faisalabad, and Nankana Sahib after beating the ruling coalition's candidates, but faced defeat at the hands of PPP's Abdul Hakeem Baloch and Musa Ali Gillani.
The main opposition party also won two of three Punjab Assembly seats in the by-elections, further strengthening its position in the country's biggest province — where it rules in coalition with PML-Q.
The constituencies where polling took place included NA-22 Mardan-III, NA-24 Charsadda-II, NA-31 Peshawar-V, NA-108 Faisalabad-VIII, NA-118 Nankana Sahib-II, NA 157 Multan-IV, NA-237 Malir-II, NA-239 Korangi, Karachi-I.
Total: PTI 6, PPP 2
Total: PTI 2, PML-N 1
The lower house seats were vacated after NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had accepted the resignations of PTI MNAs — nine on general seats and two on reserved seats for women.
By-elections were also held on three Punjab Assembly seats — PP-241 Bahawalnagar-V, PP-209 Khanewal-VII, and PP-139 Sheikhupura-V.
Khan bagged 57,824 to defeat his rival in Peshawar's NA-31 by-election, according to unofficial results, with ANP's Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour securing 32,253 votes — allowing the PTI chairman to win by more than 25,000 votes.
JUI-F's Maulana Muhammad Qasim was able to get 68,181 votes in the Mardan NA-22 by-poll, while Khan secured 76,681 votes, as per unofficial results. The PTI chairman won by a margin of 8,500 votes.
In the Charsadda NA-24 by-polls, as per unofficial results, the PTI chairman managed to bag 78,589 votes and ANP's Aimal Wali Khan got 68,356 votes. Khan won the contest by 10,233 votes.
Khan (99,602) also emerged victorious in the NA-108 Faisalabad clash as he defeated PML-N's Abid Sher Ali (75,131), as per unofficial results, by more than 24,471 votes.
The former prime minister also claimed victory on the NA-118 Nankana Sahib-II seat with 90,180 votes, according to unofficial results, defeating PML-N's Shezra Mansab Ali by a little over 12,000 votes. Ali obtained 78,024 votes.
The PTI chief also won Karachi's NA-239 by-polls with 50,014 votes, according to unofficial results, as the party retained the seat in Korangi. Khan defeated MQM-P's Nayyar Raza amidst an easy contest.
However, PPP's Abdul Hakeem Baloch defeated the PTI chairman by obtaining 32,567 votes in the by-election on the NA-237 Malir-II seat, according to unofficial results.
With nearly 10,000 votes less than Baloch, Khan bagged 22,493 in the constituency — which was claimed by PTI during the 2018 general elections.
Musa — the son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani — bagged 79,743 votes in the NA-157 Multan-IV by-election and took a lead of 19,750 as Meher — the daughter of PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi — was able to secure 59,993 votes, according to unofficial results.
On the Punjab Assembly seats, PTI candidates Muhammad Faisal Khan Niazi and Malik Muhammad Muzaffar Khan emerged victorious from PP-209 Khanewal and PP-241 Bahawalnagar, respectively, while PML-N's Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed Bhangoo bagged the PP-139 Sheikhupura seat.
The counting of votes started at 5pm after the polling — which started at 8am — was held without interruptions despite intense political activity. Sporadic clashes were reported in some constituencies.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that overall, the polling process remained peaceful, and the commission's central control room received 15 complaints of code violations.
A spokesperson for the commission said that most of the complaints were about workers of political parties clashing and other minor issues. "The received complaints were resolved immediately."
PTI Karachi President Bilal Ghaffar suffered a nasal fracture after he was attacked during the voting process at one of the polling stations in Karachi's Malir.
PTI leader Jamal Siddiqi accused PPP's Saleem Baloch of attacking Ghaffar in the Bakra Piri area in Malir. He alleged that over two dozen men attacked Ghaffar with bricks when he went to inspect a polling station near Bakra Piri, leaving him "seriously injured."
Meanwhile, a PTI spokesperson also confirmed the attack and said he was being treated at a nearby hospital.
Reacting to the matter, Sindh Minister for Labour Saeed Ghani said that Ghaffar tried to deteriorate the situation due to the fear of defeat.
He claimed that Baloch arrived at the spot after reports of hooliganism at the polling station.
The minister urged the ECP to take notice of the matter.
In response to the "attack" on his party worker, PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi penned a letter to the ECP and demanded action against PPP.
Presiding Officer Mazhar Bhatti admitted that fake votes were cast in a polling station in Ansoo Goth.
“During lunchtime, some people entered the room and tried to tamper the ballot papers,” he said, adding that the police officials were called in after hearing the noise; however, they managed to escape.
He further revealed that upon seeing the ballot papers it was noticed that 12 to 15 fake votes were cast and the suspects stamped on PPP’s party symbol ‘teer’.
A leader of the Awami National Party Samar Bilour violated the ECP's code of conduct by releasing a video of casting a vote at a polling station in Peshawar's NA-31 Peshawar-V
Responding to the matter, Bilour said that a worker had made the video which she shared on social media. She said that she wasn't aware that making or posting such a video is a violation of the ECP code.
"I deleted the video when I got to know about the ECP rules," Bilour said.
In Punjab, the polling process at a polling station in NA-157, Sardar Pur area of Multan was stopped as the workers of two political parties engaged in a quarrel following allegations of rigging.
However, the polling was resumed soon after.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Farrukh Habib levelled allegations of differences in the voters' list available with the presiding officer and those provided to the candidates.
He claimed that the presiding officer's list did not include the names of PTI voters, but a list with these names was provided after the party workers protested.
Also, District Monitoring Office (DMO) in Faisalabad directed Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to exit the premises of the constituency — NA-108 Faisalabad-VIII.
The DMO ordered him to exit the premises as he addressed a press conference within the constituency's limits, which was a violation of the election code.
Three people were arrested over the violation of ECP's code of conduct in the provincial constituency PP-139 in Sheikhupura. District Police Officer (DPO) Faisal Mukhtar said that the arrests were made over the recovery of arms during the blockade.
The ECP has also summoned PML-N MNA Iftikhar Nazir for violating the ECP’s code of conduct in Khanewal. According to the DRO, Iftikhar Nazir, on board a government vehicle, arrived at the polling station.
As the polling process started, Khan urged the people in the constituencies where the by-election is being held to come out in large numbers to vote.
"This is a referendum for Haqiqi Azadi from the cabal of crooks. We are contesting against all of PDM, the Election Commission and 'namaloom afraad'," he said in a tweet.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked the voters to decide wisely about who they are voting for as the "development and welfare of your country depends on it".
He also urged the people to participate fully in the polling.
"This [by-polls] is a constitutional and legal process and only people have the right to elect who they want," he wrote on Twitter.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja has ordered the authorities to immediately arrest the individuals involved in rioting and interfering in the polling process.
"Any government official if found involved in rigging will be arrested right away and no leniency will be shown to him," CEC Raja said while directing the authorities concerned to ensure peaceful voting.
He also urged the people to come out to vote without any fear.
A spokesperson of the election commission said that Raja is personally monitoring the polling process which will continue without intervals till 5pm.
The by-polls were the latest twist in political wrangling that began after Khan's April 10 ouster via a parliamentary no-confidence vote — making him the first prime minister to be voted out of office.
Candidates can stand for multiple seats in elections. If they win more than one, they choose which to keep, and a separate vote must later be held for those forfeited.
The by-elections come as the nation grapples with the aftermath of devastating monsoon floods that affected more than 30 million people and left a third of the country under water.
The government wanted to delay the elections for at least the next 90 days as it said that security personnel were busy in flood relief works, while there were also reports of terrorist activities during the polls.
But the ECP — despite two letters from the Ministry of Interior — rejected the suggestion of delaying the by-polls and asked the relevant authorities to beef up the security.
"Security arrangements should be beefed up to conduct peaceful elections [...] arrangements should be put in place to maintain law and order," the ECP said in response to the interior ministry's last letter.
Since the federal government was busy tackling the deadly floods, the PDM was not able to campaign up to the level of PTI as Khan went to every by-election-related jalsa for rallying his supporters.