By-election NA-48: PTI retains NA seat, loses the PA slot

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Aug 24, 2013.

Islamabad -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. 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 at 41,186 votes.

The overall voter turnout in 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 vacated by Chaudhry Nisar, the PTI’s Wasiq Qayyum Abbasi was defeated once again.

Khan, the PML-N leader and current Interior Minister, 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 3.6 times more than Nisar’s.

By-polls were conducted in 15 Punjab Assembly constituencies in the province and PML-N won 11 of those 15 seats, including PP-6. Afzal’s win also meant that PML-N now controls nine of the 14 Punjab Assembly seats in the 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. Ashraf Gujjar could only come within around 7,000 votes of PTI’s Umar.

Political workers in Rawalpindi and Islamabad said Abbasi did not plan well for the by-elections while Umar, not an Islamabad native, conducted a door-to-door campaign. 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.

Two Horse Race

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 was worse than before. He received 3,943 votes, compared to his own 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-PTI fight. Afzal and Abbasi together 95.6 per cent of the votes polled while Ammar Mehdi Raja of the PPP finished third with just 2,167 votes.

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