PESHAWAR, May 11: The Awami National Party was circumspect weeks before it stepped into elections, knowing the heavy odds it faced. But what happened on Saturday will not be less than a rude shock to even the most pessimistic amongst them.
The Pakhtun nationalist party, which ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for five years, has nearly been obliterated. Unofficial results indicate that it appears to have lost all National Assembly seats and most of the seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
Out of the 35 NA seats, the tentative results in 26 constituencies received so far indicated that PTI had won or was leading in 15 constituencies, with the PML-N and the Jamaat-i-Islami winning in three constituencies each.
The JUI-F has won in two constituencies, including that of its leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Aftab Khan Sherpao, former interior minister and chief of the Qaumi Watan Party, made a hat trick by winning his constituency in NA 8 Charsadda-II.
What is more astounding is that Saturday’s poll results are almost a repeat of the 2002 elections _ the ANP is back to where it was, and the seats it had won in 2008, had almost all been won by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf this time, which either has won or leading in 29 constituencies in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
It has suffered a series of setbacks in what used to be regarded as its stronghold — the Peshawar Valley — that includes Peshawar, Charasadda, Mardan, Nowshera and Swabi. It lost, in almost serial order, from NA 1, Peshawar-1, the attention-grabbing Ghulam Bilour vs Imran Khan seat.
Biolur lost to Imran Khan by a handsome margin. “This is part of politics. People wanted change,” Bilour told Dawn while conceding defeat.
The party’s chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan, was lagging behind the JUI-F’s Maulana Gohar Shah in NA 7, Charsadda-1 and if he loses this seat, it would complete the ANP’s rout in KP.
It has lost all the NA seats it had won in the 2008 elections.
In the provincial assembly too, the ANP, which had won by a comfortable margin in the 2008 election, has so far won only three seats, half of Aftab Sherpao’s newly formed Qaumi Watan Party.
Of the 99 seats in the KP Assembly, tentative results received from 72 constituencies indicated that PTI was in the lead, or had won, in 33 constituencies, followed by independent candidates in 14 constituencies. The JI has won six seats, while the PML-N, JUI-F and the QWP have won in seven constituencies.
It is, in some respects, almost repeat of the 2002 elections, when the MMA had swept the electoral landscape of the then North-West Frontier Province, the only difference is that this time the former religious conglomerate has been replaced by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf.
Imran’s Party is all set to win almost as many seats in KP’s Provincial Assembly as were won over by the MMA in 2002 and if the trends in the remaining few constituencies are anything to go by, the Jamaat-i-Islami, which had boycotted the 2008 elections, has either won or is leading in six PA constituencies. The JUI (F) has also won fewer seats than it had hoped it would.
Considering the number of independents, who have won, it seems quite possible, the PTI could easily form a coalition with the help of independents and the Jamaat-i-Islami and possibly the QWP leaving out the JUI (F), the ANP in the cold. It will be an irony of sorts, if the ANP with four seats in the Provincial Assembly plays a junior opposition.