PTI-backed MPAs leading in KP; PPP ahead in Sindh

Published February 10, 2024
PPP supporters celebrate the victory of a provincial assembly candidate in Karachi on February 9, 2024. — AFP
PPP supporters celebrate the victory of a provincial assembly candidate in Karachi on February 9, 2024. — AFP

LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR /QUETTA: Provisional results for provincial assembly elections issued by late Friday showed that there would be no clear winners except in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The public’s mandate for Punjab, the largest of the provincial assemblies, was split bet­ween the PML-N and candidates bac­ked by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, with the former slightly ahead in seats that had been called by the Election Commission. Meanwhile, Balochistan, as is now tradition, seemed carved up between an assortment of mainstream and regional parties.

Results for the provincial assembly seats were being tabulated side by side with results for the National Assembly till late Friday, with many yet to be announced. Based on the preliminary results of the 2024 election issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), both Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stayed true to their preferences from the previous elections. Sindh voted overwhelmingly for the PPP, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stayed true to the PTI.

The people of KP defied tradition for the second time by returning the PTI to power for a record third stint in the province. Before 2018, the province had never voted an incumbent back to power but has since been loyal to Imran Khan’s party. PTI-nominated independent candidates did exceptionally in the provincial assembly results, snapping up a more-than-comfortable majority of 83 out of the 105 seats that had been called by Friday night.

That number puts the party in pole position to form the next government even without reserved seats, although it will face other challenges because its returned candidates contested the elections as independents.

Results from Punjab Assembly indicate ‘split mandate’ between ‘N’ and PTI-backed candidates

The runner-ups trailed by a huge margin, with the JUI-F gaining seven seats, the PML-N five and the PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami tied for third place with three seats each. The ANP — which had been first to graciously concede defeat in the early hours of Friday — managed to win just one, marking a low point in the party’s political history.

KP’s voters also punished notable defectors from the PTI, with former chief ministers Pervaiz Khattak and Mahmood Khan, both now part of PTI-Parlia­mentarians, made to suffer humiliating defeats. The family of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman was unable to win three of the four seats they contested.

In Punjab, the mandate was split almost cleanly between the PML-N and PTI-backed independents, who were locked in a close race for numerical superiority with some results still pending. The PTI-backed independents had managed to snap up 127 seats in the house of 297 according to the count till late Friday, but the PML-N was slightly ahead with 132 seats.

The assembly could see a repeat of the power struggle that followed the 2018 election, when the PTI, despite being slightly behind, had denied the PML-N its rightful claim on Punjab with the help of independent candidates ferried in by Jahangir Tareen, who now heads the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party.

This time, however, the PTI faces a major disadvantage as it will not be automatically allocated reserved seats for minorities and women. It may also need to protect its candidates against attempts to poach them. It remains to be seen which of the other parties it chooses to join or even to make a bid on the government: the PPP had won 10 seats by late Friday, the PML-Q five, and the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party and Tehreek-i-Labbaik one each.

Provisional results showed that the PML-N had gained ground in north Punjab, bagging 15 seats in the Rawalpindi division and 33 in the Lahore division. The party also seemed to have regained ground in the Gujranwala, Sialkot and Narowal districts, where it won a combined 19 seats.

However, it suffered defeat in Gujrat, Hafizabad and Wazirabad, and its biggest rout was from the Faisalabad division, where it won five seats but lost 27 to independents. Sargodha, too, voted in 17 independents and won against nine from the PML-N. Multan was tied at 14 seats each, while DG Khan also leaned heavily towards the PTI.

Meanwhile, in Sindh, the PPP had sailed to a comfortable victory on 83 out of the assembly’s 130 seats, with 123 seats called by late Friday. That represented a gain on the party’s 76 seats in the last general election. The party was poised to comfortably form the government for another five-year stint.

Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan managed to displace the PTI from second place in the assembly, grabbing 22 seats in the provisional count for 2024. A total of 14 independents had been declared successful by the ECP, of which most belonged to the PTI. The Jamaat-i-Islami and Grand Democratic Alliance also snapped up two seats each.

Balochistan, as is now tradition, was carved up between an assortment of mainstream and small parties and independent candidates, with the PPP, PML-N and JUI-F emerging as front-runners in what will likely be another fractured assembly. The former two had picked up nine seats each, with the JUI-F close behind with eight.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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