LAHORE: Religio-political parties, which had fielded around 1,400 candidates in the general election, have only managed to win 39 seats so far, while giving leaders like Dr Farooq Sattar and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari run for their money.

Many of defeated candidates of the parties, however, are threatening to take to the streets against, what they have termed, theft of their mandate through “organised rigging and manipulation".

Also read: Religious parties fail to make their presence felt

According to these parties’ claims, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) has won 36 seats, two seats went to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), and one to the Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT). Interestingly enough, the TLP is following closely Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and has obtained more votes than those gained by the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman in their Karachi contests.

Of the 1,400 candidates fielded by religious parties, only 39 have won

The MMA hopes to improve its tally by 10 more seats and the TAA by another three while according to the official results, they have won only 39. The MMA has won 13 seats in the National Assembly and 23 provincial seats. The TLP claims to have won two in Sindh — PS-107 (Lyari) and PS-115 (Baldia Town) — in Karachi. The AAT says it has won a seat in the KP assembly, PK47.

The biggest battery of candidates was put up by the TLP, led by the fiery and hardliner cleric, Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, as it fielded 566 candidates — 178 for National Assembly and the rest for provincial assemblies.

The party has not been able to win any National Assembly seat so far, but says it is expecting to win at least 20 seats. According to party spokesperson Pir Zubair Ahmad, the party has been robbed of its mandate through rigging. “Those were meticulously calculated wins. The party was certain of victory on all the seats, but unprecedented rigging on all of them has deprived the party of its rightful mandate. However, we will not allow anyone to steal people’s mandate,” he warned and claimed: “The party will contest its right at every forum, even on the streets.”

Talking to Dawn, Ihsan Bari, the chief of AAT — another name of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s Milli Muslim League which had been denied registration by the election commission — that fielded 265 candidates (87 for the National Assembly and the rest provincial assemblies, claimed that his party had won a provincial seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was waiting for results of three more provincial assembly in central Punjab — Narowal, Sialkot and Kasur.

“We are winning on these seats. That is why results have been delayed — by making us wait for the last 20 hours,” Mr Bari told Dawn. “We have also received complaints of irregularities like all other parties and also have reservations about the conduct of the elections and results, but we do not plan to protest or be part of any movement protesting it,” he said and added: “Many of our National Assembly candidates have got substantial votes, even ending third or fourth, but a win has eluded us on National Assembly contests, for example Talha Saeed — son of Hafiz Saeed — received 12,000 votes in Sargodha.”

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a faction of the TLP led by Ashraf Asif Jalali, had also fielded 102 candidates — 29 for the National Assembly and 73 for provincial seats. Mr Jalali himself had contested on two seats from Lahore and Gujranwala (in NA-82 and NA-128).

On Thursday, he explained the reasons for his loss at a press conference. His party’s mandate had been stolen through rigging, he said.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2018