RAWALPINDI: After 30 years, Rawalpindi is no longer a PML-N fort as the official results declare PTI victorious in the area.
The PML-N, which has been winning here since 1988, called a meeting of its district leadership to discuss the matter and chalked out plans for by-elections and the future plan.
Though PML-N had lost many seats in the district in 2002 during the Pervez Musharraf era, it was not wiped out completely as it has been in the 2018 elections.
In the 2013 elections, PML-N had lost three main National Assembly and five provincial assembly seats in Rawalpindi City and Taxila but managed to retain its hold on four National Assembly and nine provincial assembly seats.
Fissures in party, wrong award of PML-N tickets, limited campaign time contributed to loss
There are three main reasons for the defeat of PML-N in Rawalpindi including friction within the party, the popularity of Imran Khan among the youth and resentment for the award of tickets to people who failed to serve the people during the last five years.
The absence of Nawaz Sharif in the election campaign was also one of the reasons the party suffered setbacks in the elections and Shahbaz Sharif also did not come to the city to motivate workers and supporters.
PML-N also had limited time for electioneering and its campaign was halted for a week in the city and other parts of the district due to arrests of workers and the court verdict against its leaders.
“On his way back to Lahore, Shahbaz Sharif asked local party leaders to discuss with him the party’s defeat and collect evidences of poll rigging in different areas,” a senior party leader told Dawn.
Another party leader said local leaders were not able to run the election campaign without Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who has supervised the Rawalpindi division in past elections since 1988.
“Chaudhry Tanveer is leading local leaders and workers but he is not able to handle things. He got four national and provincial assembly tickets for his two sons, nephew and the husband of a niece, all of whom were defeated,” he said.
“It is strange that two and a half years ago, PML-N swept the local government elections and PTI was wiped out then,” former PML-N MNA Malik Shakil Awan told Dawn.
He said PML-N candidates did not have a level field and that the environment had been made conducive for the PTI.
“The PML-N mandate was rigged through different means,” he added.
When asked, former district nazim and PTI leader Raja Tariq Mehboob Kiani said this was a historic election and the party has won seats not due to the ability of local leaders but due to the charisma of Imran Khan.
Changing trends in Taxila
By sweeping the one National Assembly seat, NA-63, and two provincial assembly seats, PP-19 Taxila and PP-20 Wah, PTI has set new election trends in the Margalla Valley of the Potohar region.
Estranged PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who was contesting independently with the election symbol of a jeep, lost the elections as did the PML-N, whose voter base was divided by religious parties.
The other surprise was the large number of votes the Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) managed to secure. The new, hard-line religious political party secured more votes than PPP and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, especially in Wah.
There was a higher voter turnout in Taxila than in Wah city.
According to the official results announced by the returning officer, additional district and session judge Tahir Abbbas Sipra, PTI’s Ghulam Sarwar Khan secured 102, 267 votes while Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan secured 66,610.
According to documents of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PML-N’s Sardar Mumtaz Khan got 23,216 votes, while MMA’s Prof Waqas Khan secured 4,345. TLP got 9,839 votes and PPP got 2,859.
PTI’s Ammar Sadeeq Khan, the son of the late Sadeeq Khan and nephew of PTI Vice President Ghulam Sarwar Khan, won in PP-19, Taxila by securing 59,490 votes. Former MPA Haji Umer Farooq from the Kohistan House was contesting the polls against him and secured 30, 408 votes.
Mr Farooq was contesting the elections independently and as part of the Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s panel.
PML-N’s Zeeshan Butt got 17,932 votes, TLP’s candidate received 5,139 votes, the MMA candidate got 2,707 votes and PPP got 1,755.
In PP20, Wah, PTI’s Taimoor Masood Akbar won with 40,549 votes while Faisal Iqbal, contesting in Chaudhry Nisar’s panel, was the runner up in 26,134 votes.
PML-N’s Raja Sarfaraz Asghar secured 12,793 votes, the TLP candidate secured 7,598, MMA’s Prof Waqas Khan secured 3,532 while the PPP got 2,616 votes.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018