Elections 2013: Independent candidates fail to impress in Islamabad

Islamabad – The 28 independent candidates who won National Assembly seats in the 2013 elections have already proved important in the country’s future government. But in the federal capital, independent candidates failed to dent the performance of major political parties.

A whopping 43 independent candidates stood for the general elections from Islamabad’s two National Assembly constituencies and except for one candidate, the army of independents failed to even threaten the grand scheme of the capital’s politics.

The 43 candidates secured only 3.4 per cent — or 12,988 votes — of the total valid votes polled at the two constituencies, according to results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on its website.

In comparison, the seven major political parties — PML-N, PTI, PPP, JI, ANP, MQM and JUI-F — together bagged 95.7 per cent of the total 386,843 valid votes in NA-48 and NA-49, according to ECP data.

But the independents, perhaps due to their large number, overpowered smaller political parties such as the Christian Progressive Movement and Pakistan Freedom Party among others. The smaller parties received less than one per cent of the overall polled votes.

Among the independents, there was only one clear winner.

NA-48’s Julius Salik, the former federal minister and rights activist, was the most successful candidate among the independents. According to ECP data, he secured 5,038 votes — around 52 per cent of the total 9.762 votes received by 32 independent candidates in Salik’s constituency.

He came fifth among the 51 candidates running for NA-48 in terms of number of votes, bettered only by the PTI, PML-N, JI and PPPP candidates.

Salik, who spent around Rs70,000 on his campaign, used a Suzuki pick-up truck for electioneering. He called the pick-up truck his “mobile election office.”

Another independent Christian candidate from NA-48, Maqbool Masih Khokhar, received 377 votes, according to ECP results.

Apart from Salik, Javedullah Khattak Advocate was the other independent candidate who performed well in NA-48. He secured 1,897 votes.

While Salik led the race among independent candidates, Naeem Chaudhry’s 3 votes in NA-48 were the lowest in Islamabad for any candidate. As the popular joke goes, he probably only received votes from his immediate family.

Independents in NA-49 performed even worse. None of the 11 independent candidates in the constituency crossed the 1,000-vote mark.

Dr Muhammad Usman Khan Advocate secured the most votes among the independent candidates from NA-49: 881.

Overall, the four “advocates” or lawyers who ran in the elections from NA-48 and NA-49 received 2,814 votes, according to ECP results.

Raja Aurangzeb Khan, a 51-year-old labourer who used his bicycle and a Rs12,000 budget for his independent election campaign from NA-49, got 171 votes — no mean feat for an ordinary man who had pitted himself against the might of political parties that emptied their Rs1.5 million accounts on the election campaign.

Khan’s votes, however, were not enough to dismantle the political party candidates. PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry piled a staggering 95,701 votes, out of the reach of any of Islamabad’s 43 independent candidates.

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