ISLAMABAD: Despite a dismal performance in the general elections, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has invited applications for by-elections on the vacant seats of national and provincial assemblies scheduled to be held in October.

According to PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar, applications addre­­s­sed to the party president with a bank draft of Rs30,000 in favour of the PPP for a National Assembly and a provincial assembly seat should reach the party secretariat in Islamabad by Aug 26.

As many as 11 National Assembly and 26 provincial assembly seats fell vacant due to different reasons, including resignations by those elected on more than one seat and death of some contesting candidates.

ECP to accept nominations for 11 NA, 26 PA seats from Aug 28

Interestingly, the PPP candidates had faced worst defeats in all these constituencies where by-elections will be held on Oct 14, as announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). In some cases, the PPP candidates even polled votes less than the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

Four of the 11 NA seats have been vacated by Prime Minister Imran Khan — who had secured all five seats he contested for. The seats vacated by him are: NA-35 (Bannu), NA-53 (Islamabad), NA-131 (Lahore) and NA-243 (Karachi).

Two National Assembly seats NA-65 (Chakwal) and NA-69 (Gujrat) have been vacated by Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), who has now been elected the Speaker of Punjab Assembly.

The seat of NA-56 (Attock) has been vacated by retired Maj Tahir Sadiq of the PTI who had also won from adjacent NA-55 seat. Likewise, Ghulam Sarwar Khan of the PTI, who defeated former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from NA-59 (Rawalp­indi) and NA-63 (Rawalp­indi), has retained NA-59 and vacated NA-63. Another seat, NA-124 (Lahore), has been vacated by PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, who decided to retain his provincial assembly seat he also won in the election.

Election in NA-60 (Rawalpindi) was postponed by the ECP following the disqualification of PML-N’s candidate Hanif Abbasi days before the polls while death of a contesting candidate led to postponement of elections in NA-103 (Faisalabad). In NA-35 Bannu, PTI chief Imran Khan secured more than 113,000 votes and MMA’s Akram Durrani also bagged over 106,000 votes whereas the PPP’s Syeda Yasmeen Safdar could not manage to get even 10,000 votes.

Similarly, in NA-53 Islamabad, PPP’s Syed Sibtul Bokhari — the younger brot­her of former Senate chairman Nay­yar Hussain Bokhari — only secu­red some 18,000 votes whereas PTI’s Imran Khan and Shahid Khaqan Abb­asi of the PML-N had polled over 92,000 and over 44,000 votes, respectively.

PPP’s Syed Ishrat Ali Zaidi faced a worst defeat in NA-63 Rawalpindi from where Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan bagged over 100,000 votes defeating former interior minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, who got 44,000 votes. The PPP candidate secured mere 2,833 votes in this constituency.

Similarly, in NA-56 (Attock), PTI’s Tahir Sadiq bagged over 163,000 votes against PML-N candidate’s 99,000 votes whereas the PPP’s Saleem Haider only managed to get 38,000 votes.

The PPP also faced humiliations in NA-65 and NA-69 constituencies, both won by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi by securing over 157,000 and 122,000 votes, respectively. In both these constituencies, the PPP candidates had only managed to get 3,250 and 6,000 votes, respectively.

The PPP also faced similar humiliation in Lahore where its candidates miserably failed. In Lahore’s NA-131 constituency, PPP’s Babar Zaheer polled mere 1,515 votes from where Imran Khan had bagged 84,313 votes, followed by PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique’s 83,633 votes.

And the situation was even worst for the PPP in Karachi’s NA-243 constituency won by Imran Khan by securing 91,000 votes. Former deputy speaker of Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza only polled 10,000 votes, even less than the votes of MMA’s candidate who had managed to get over 16,000 votes.

According to the schedule issued by the ECP, returning officers will issue public notices inviting nominations on Aug 27, which will be filed between Aug 28 and Aug 30, followed by publication of the candidates’ names on Aug 31. Sept 4 has been set as the last date for scrutiny of nomination papers by returning officers while Sept 8 will be the last date for filing of appeals against acceptance or rejection of the nomination papers.

Appellate tribunals will decide these appeals by Sept 13 and a revised list of validly nominated candidates will be published the following day. Sept 15 has been set as the last date for withdrawal of candidatures and the final list of candidates will be published the same day. Poll symbols will be allocated to candidates on Sept 16 and the polling will be held on Oct 14.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2018