PML-N regains lost ground in Rawalpindi and Islamabad

Published February 10, 2024
Journalists stand in front of a screen displaying election results at the Election Commission Pakistan in Islamabad on Friday. — APP
Journalists stand in front of a screen displaying election results at the Election Commission Pakistan in Islamabad on Friday. — APP

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Amid complaints of rigging, the PML-N made a clean sweep after 16 years by grabbing all the three seats of the National Assembly in the federal capital. The party also made a similar comeback in Rawalpindi where it clinched the three National Assembly seats after 10 years.

However, candidates of other parties alleged that the results were altered to facilitate the PML-N.

According to the results announced by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PML-N candidate Anjum Aqeel Khan won NA-46 (Islamabad-I) with 81,958 votes against 44,317 votes of his competitor Amir Masood Mughal, an independent backed by the PTI. Raja Imran Ashraf of the PPP bagged 7,987 votes.

In NA-47, PML-N leader Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was declared victorious after scoring 102,502 votes while PTI-backed independent candidate Shoaib Shaheen got 86,396 votes and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, an independent candidate, secured 17,916 votes.

Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, a joint candidate of the PML-N and Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), won NA-48 (Islamabad-III) with 69,699 votes while Syed Mohammad Ali Bukhari stood second with 59,851 votes and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar third with 18,572 votes.

In federal capital and garrison city, party wins all seats after 16 and 10 years, respectively

The PML-N had made a clean sweep in Islamabad in 2008 general elections when the city had only two seats in NA. In 2013, one seat each was won by PML-N and PTI.

In 2018, the PTI had won all the three seats after the addition of one more seat.

Meanwhile, four other candidates have alleged rigging and alterations in the results and two of them announced to approach courts.

Amir Masood Mughal claimed in a video message that he had signed and stamped Form-45 (results) of 294 out of the 342 polling stations according to which he was far ahead of Anjum Aqeel with over 40,000 votes. However, he alleged that on Friday morning the results were altered and he was defeated by 40,000 votes.

Another PTI-backed candidate from NA-47, Shoaib Shaheen, told Dawn that he had won but the results were changed at midnight. “I had won with a lead of 50,000 votes but later was declared defeated by more than 16,000 votes,” he said, adding his votes were given to PML-N candidate, Tariq Fazal.

Mr Shaheen said he had lodged a complaint with the deputy commissioner Islamabad and the Election Commission of Pakistan but to no avail.

He claimed that he had complete results of all polling stations by 11pm on February 8 according to which he had won. “I will definitely challenge the dishonesty in the court of law,” said Mr Shaheen, who is also a senior lawyer.

Independent candidate Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar accepted his defeat but claimed that two of his competitors - Shoaib Shaheen and Mr Ali Bukhari - had won from NA-47 and NA-48, respectively, but their results were altered.

 Supporters of PML-N celebrate victory of Danial Chaudhry at his house in Rawalpindi on Friday. — Photo by Mohammas Asim
Supporters of PML-N celebrate victory of Danial Chaudhry at his house in Rawalpindi on Friday. — Photo by Mohammas Asim

Two of the independent candidates backed by PTI decided to challenge the results in Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday (today).

Talking to Dawn, Mr Bukhari claimed that he had obtained the highest votes in NA-48, but the returning officer changed the results.

Rawalpindi

Hanif Abbasi of the PML-N returned from NA-56 with 96,649 votes while PTI-backed independent candidate, Shahryar Riaz secured 82,613 votes.

Daniyal Chaudhry won NA-57 by securing 83,331 votes and defeated PTI-backed independent candidate Seemabia Tahir, who bagged 56,789 votes.

Malik Ibrar of PML-N won NA-55 with 78,542 votes while PTI-backed Raja Basharat remained the runner-up with 67,101 votes.

On the other hand, PPP candidates got only 10,843 votes in the three seats.

Its candidate for NA-55 Babar Khan Jadoon scored 2,472 votes, Sumaira Gul bagged 4,847 votes in NA-56 and Mukhtar Abbas in NA-57 scored 3,724 votes.

Eight-time winner, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was defeated by PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi in NA-56. The former could get only 5,725 votes. Sheikh Rashid’s nephew Rashid Shafique lost to Daniyal Chaudhry in NA-57 while securing only 3,632 votes.

Sheikh Rashid had won the seat in 2013 and 2018 with the support of the PTI. This time, the PTI refused to support the former interior minister and awarded ticket to its own former MPA Shahryar Riaz.

In 2013, PML-N had won only one seat of National Assembly from the cantonment areas while PTI chief Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid had grabbed the two seats.

In 2018, the PML-N lost all three seats. Imran Khan had decided to support Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in NA-57. However, a few days before the elections, Hanif Abbasi was sentenced in the ephedrine case and the election was postponed.

Sheikh Rashid became the federal minister for railways in Imran Khan’s cabinet and later his nephew contested the election from NA-57 on the ticket of the PTI and won.

Another former interior minister from Rawalpindi Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was defeated by PML-N’s Qamarul Islam in NA-53 and by an independent candidate, Aqeel Malik, in NA-54. The two ex-interior ministers from Rawalpindi lost to candidates of their former party, the PML-N.

In NA-53, Chaudhry Nisar got 44,072 votes while Qamarul Islam of the PML-N scored 72,006 votes and in NA-54 he could score only 19,093 votes against Aqeel Malik’s 85,912 votes.

In 1985, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had become MNA as an independent candidate. However, he joined the PML-N in 1988 and won the seat again after defeating former chief of the army staff Gen Tika Khan of the PPP. He later became close aide to Nawaz Sharif.

In 1990 elections, he won the seat and became federal minister for manpower and overseas Pakistanis and then minister for information. In 1994, he again won the seat and became part of the opposition led by Nawaz Sharif. He also faced Kalashnikov case and remained in jail during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto.

After the 1997 elections, he became the federal minister for information in Nawaz Sharif cabinet.

The military coup of Pervez Musharraf was the turning point for Sheikh Rashid after which he parted ways with Nawaz Sharif. After 2002 elections, Sheikh Rashid became part of Pervez Musharraf-led governments of Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Shaukat Aziz where he served as minister for information and railways.

In 2008 elections, he was defeated for the first time by PML-N stalwart Javed Hashmi and again in the by-poll by PML-N’s Malik Shakil Awan. He then tried to rejoin the PML-N but Nawaz Sharif did not accept him after which Sheikh Rashid formed his own party.

Meanwhile, after the announcement of the results, PML-N workers gathered at the main office of the winning candidates at 6th Road, Chaklala Scheme-III and Naseerabad and danced to drumbeats by flashing victory signs. The party leaders said democracy was the only way to development of the country. They said it had been proved that Rawalpindi was a fort of the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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