Irfan Khan
Irfan Khan

Despite the absence of the traditional electoral pomp and show on the streets, an overwhelming number of candidates are vying for National Asse­mbly seats in the upcoming polls.

A careful analysis of the final candidate list, issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), reveals that a total of 5,160 candidates, including 312 women and two transgender persons, are in the running for 266 general seats of the National Assembly. So far, there is not a single constituency where a one-on-one contest is expected.

But with polls just under two weeks away, reports have started pouring in from various constituencies about candidates announcing their retirement from the race and withdrawing in support of other hopefuls, even after the process of printing of the ballot papers has long begun.

Statistics reveal that the country’s seven major parties have fielded a total of 1,356 candidates. Candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), however, will be contesting as independents after the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ECP’s ruling to deprive the party of its electoral symbol over its failure to conduct intra-party elections to the commission’s satisfaction.

MQM-P claims it is fielding candidates from all four provinces for the first time

The PTI has fielded its candidates on 246 NA seats, followed by 241 by the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and 223 by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

The data shows that the TLP, which made its electoral debut in the 2018 elections, has fielded more candidates than the country’s two major parties — the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The PPP has fielded a total of 219 candidates, whereas 212 candidates will be contesting the polls on PML-N’s ticket.

Constituency-wise data shows that there are six constituencies where 40 or more candidates are vying for the seat, whereas there are only nine constituencies with less than 10 candidates. Two constituencies, both in Balochistan, have the highest number of candidates, 46.

In NA-255 Sohbat Pur-cum-Jaffarabad-cum-Usta Mohammad-cum-Nasirabad, there are 30 independents out of 46 candidates, while 16 parties have hopefuls in the field as well. Mir Changez Jamali of the PPP and Mir Khan Muhammad Jamali of PML-N are the main contenders in this constituency.

 Irfan Khan
Irfan Khan

Similarly, on NA-263 Quetta-II, there are 27 independents. The list contains the names of Pashtoonkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, former MNA Rubina Irfan of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), former senator Rozi Kakar of PPP and Jamal Shah Kakar of PML-N.

As far as the lowest number of candidates are concerned, there are three constituencies — all in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — where eight candidates each are vying for the NA seats. These constituencies are NA-8 Bajaur, NA-10 Buner and NA-14 Mansehra-I.

In NA-8 Bajaur, PPP’s Akhunzada Chatan will be facing PML-N’s Shahabuddin Khan and Gul Zafar Khan of the PTI having ‘shower’ as electoral symbol.

In NA-10 Buner, PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan is contesting the election against Bakht Jahan Khan of the JI and former MNA Sher Akbar Khan, who is contesting this time on the ticket of PTI-Parliamentarians (PTI-P) headed by the former KP chief minister, Pervez Khattak.

Statistics also reveal that there are six constituencies — two in KP and four in Sindh — where nine candidates are contesting the Feb 8 elections. These constituencies are NA-2 Swat and NA-24 Charsadda-I in KP; and NA-194 Larkana-I, NA-195 Larkana-II, NA-199 Ghotki-II and NA-224 Sujawal in Sindh.

In NA-2 Swat, the main contest is exp­ec­ted between Amir Muqam of the PML-N and Amjad Ali Khan of the PTI. PPP has awarded party ticket to Haider Ali Khan.

In Charsadda, PTI’s Anwar Taj will be facing Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Shazia Tehmas Khan of the PPP.

In NA-194 Larkana, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will be contesting against Rashid Mehmood Soomro of the JUI-F. The PTI suffered a setback in this constituency when its nominee Senator Saifullah Abro withdrew from the race in favour of the PPP chairman. The PTI has already issued him a show cause notice.

In the adjacent NA-195 Larkana, Dr Safdar Abbasi of the Grand Democratic Alliance will be up against PPP’s Nazir Ahmed Bughio.

The urban Sindh-based MQM-P has fielded a total of 86 candidates on NA seats across the country.

According to the MQM-P’s provincial coordination committee incharge, Zahid Mehmood, for the first time, the party has fielded candidates from all four provinces and Islamabad. The data shows that the party has fielded highest number of candidates, 49, from Sindh. It has issued tickets to 24 candidates in Punjab, seven in Balochistan and four in KP.

According to ECP data, a total of over 17,800 candidates will be contesting the elections for national and provincial assemblies. Of them, 6,031 candidates have been fielded by political parties, including 5,756 males and 275 females, while 11,785 independent candidates include 11,174 males, 607 women and four transgender persons.

Political parties, excluding PTI, have fielded 1,873 candidates, including 1,780 men and 93 women, on NA seats. The total number of independents vying for NA seats is 3,248. They include 3,027 males, 219 females and two transgender persons.

A total of 12,695 candidates will be in the ring for provincial assemblies’ seats. They include 12,123 males, 570 females and two transgender persons — both independent candidates from KP.

The breakdown for provincial assemblies shows 6,710 candidates in the run for the Punjab Assembly, 3,878 for the Sindh Assembly, 1,834 for the KP Assembly and 1,273 for the Balochistan Assembly.

The total number of candidates fielded by political parties for provincial assemblies is 4,158, including 3,976 males and 182 females.

The total number of independent candidates for provincial assemblies is 8,537 — more than double the number of candidates fielded by political parties. They include 4,838 for Punjab, 1,929 for Sindh, 1,033 for KP and 739 for Balochistan.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2024


To find your constituency and the location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (without spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, you can find out about the contesting candidates by visiting the ECP website here and checking the province-wise break-up of Form 33s.

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