Elections 2013: PTI puts up impressive fight in capital

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on May 13, 2013.

Islamabad – The Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) turned a few heads with a dominating performance in the federal capital on Election Day, winning one of the city’s two National Assembly seats and putting up an impressive fight on the other.

The party’s performance in Islamabad was helped by women participation and a voter turnout that was higher than the city’s historical average. However, patronage-based and voting along party lines aided the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to salvage one-half of the city it had captured completely in the 2008 general elections.

Urban Islamabad Votes for Change

Javed Hashmi, the PTI candidate for NA-48 (Islamabad-I), rode a wave of enthusiastic urban voters to cause an upset victory.

He defeated second-placed Anjum Aqeel Khan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate who was on a re-election bid, by a margin of 21,522 votes, according to the unofficial results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Hashmi, a veteran politician formerly of the PML-N who joined PTI in December 2011 and who is not even from Islamabad, received 73,692 votes — or around 43 per cent of the total valid votes polled.

Khan, who was embroiled in a land scam during his term in office, secured 52,170 votes.

In the run-up to the May 11 polls, media reports and experts had suggested that Jamaat-e Islami’s Mian Aslam was a favourite for the NA-48 seat.

Aslam had previously been elected to the lower house of the parliament from the same constituency in 2002 and he was banking on the JI’s traditional vote bank and the service delivery issues he had helped the constituents with, even when he was out of power, to be elected to office again.

But despite pouring around a million rupees in his election campaign, Aslam was swept away by passionate PTI supporters, who showed up at polling stations to support their party more than its candidate. Aslam only managed to get 25,010 votes, according to ECP data.

Out of the total 292,142 registered votes, 173,968 votes were polled in NA-48 on May 11. The voter turnout was 59.55 per cent.

The PTI succeeded in mobilizing first-time voters in the mostly urban constituency with its slogan of change, not only voters from the 18 to 25 age group but also older residents, especially in the city’s posh sectors, who had never participated in the electoral process before.

“The youth wants change and I have come out to vote because otherwise I don’t deserve the right to complain at the bad governance in Pakistan,” said 22-year-old Khurram Shahzad, who works at a private firm.

The party also drew support from women voters.

“I decided to vote not only on the basis of general issues but specific problems faced by the poor,” Tania Omar, a housewife who cast her vote in favour of PTI in NA-48, said. “We have seen the other political parties in power many times and its time we try someone new.”

By 3pm, most polling stations in the federal capital had already clocked half of the votes registered there, a voting trend that even surprised some presiding officers who had performed election duty in previous elections.

“There is more awareness among the voters this time, it seems,” said a presiding officer, who wished not to be named, at a polling station in sector F-7.

However, the high voter turnout was not entirely due to the PTI’s efforts. The large number of candidates — 51 people contested elections from NA-48 — was also partly responsible for bringing voters to the polling stations. In fact, the top four candidates after Hashmi secured 52 per cent of the total valid votes polled.

NA-49: Still the Tiger’s Den

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) retained its hold on Islamabad’s other constituency: the mostly rural NA-49.

PML-N candidate Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, who won by a slender lead of 756 votes in 2008, improved on his past performance and received 95701 votes, according to ECP unofficial results.

The voter turnout in NA-49 was even better than NA-48.  There, 64.36 per cent of the total 334,241 registered voters cast their ballots on May 11, according to the ECP.

According to locals, the voters who support PML-N on ideological and party lines came to Chaudhry’s support in the end. These included silent voters, who had led to the impression in pre-poll surveys that the PML-N was in danger of losing the seat.

Chaudhry was able to keep in tact most of his clan’s votes as well, which were expected to be split between him and the PTI candidate, Chaudhry Ilyas Meherban.

Meherban was the surprise package in NA-49. He finished in second-place with 57,160 votes.

Chaudhry was believed to face a tough time by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who had carried on an extensive election campaign in NA-49. But, much in the same way PPP candidate failed to produce results in Punjab, Khokhar also could not garner popular support.

Khokhar only managed to reach third-place with 44,646 votes, according to ECP results.

On Sunday, PML-N supporters celebrated the party’s victory, not only in NA-49 but the PML-N’s sweep in Punjab, by holding small celebration gatherings at various places in the city.

Ajmal Baloch, a trader in Aabpara market, was buoyant at the party’s performance.

“Now we will tell our opponents the way work is done and progress achieved,” Baloch said. “Imran Khan said he would clean-bowl PML-N but he fell on the wickets and got out himself.”

Statistics from Election Commission of Pakistan 

Unofficial Results for NA-48 Islamabad-I (Source: Election Commission of Pakistan)

Number of Polling Stations

260

Total Registered Voters

292142

Total Votes Polled

173968

Valid Votes

172928

Rejected Votes

1042

Percentage of Votes Polled

59.55

Position Candidate’s Name Political Party

Votes Obtained

1 Javed Hashmi PTI

73692

2 Anjum Aqeel Khan PML-N

52170

3 Mian Aslam JI

25010

4 Faisal Sakhi Butt PPPP

9177

5 J Salik Independent

5038

 

 

Unofficial Results for NA-49 Islamabad-II (Source: Election Commission of Pakistan)

Number of Polling Stations

288

Total Registered Voters

334241

Total Votes Polled

216008

Valid Votes

214605

Rejected Votes

1403

Percentage of Votes Polled

64.36

Position Candidate’s Name Political Party

 Votes Obtained

1 Tariq Fazal Chaudhry PML-N

95701

2 Chaudhry Ilyas Meherban PTI

57160

3 Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar PPPP

44646

4 Zubair Farooq Khan JI

11230

5 Usman Khan Advocate Independent

881

 

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