In a major upset to the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won six National Assembly and two Punjab Assembly seats in by-elections.
PTI was contesting from seven constituencies –won the by-elections in six of eight National Assembly seats up for grabs across Pakistan, as per unofficial results, reported Geo News. The PTI chief won the seats in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Faisalabad, and Nankana Sahib after beating the ruling coalition’s candidates.
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 Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q), reported Geo News.
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.
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, reported Geo News.
The counting of votes started at 5 pm after the polling — was held without interruptions despite the intense political activity. Sporadic clashes were reported in some constituencies, reported Geo News.
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.
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.
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.
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, reported Geo News.
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.