LAHORE: Believe it or not, out of the 272 National Assembly general seats in the country, the winning margin in over 32 percent or 88 constituencies is 10,000 votes and even less, reveals a laborious research conducted by The News International.
This research has carefully taken into consideration the results of the most recent February 18, 2008 polls and more than a dozen by-elections that have followed.
If the results of a previous polling stint serve as a yardstick for both political players and analysts, then the constituency-wise outcome of the February 2008 general elections should send shivers down the spines of all the major parties operating in Pakistan because numerous contests had turned out to be cliffhangers in the end.
While the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) candidates were lucky to emerge triumphant on 26 of these closely-fought 88 National Assembly seats, Nawaz Sharif’s men must also thank their stars because they could barely manage to clinch 18 such slots.
The PML-Q, led by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, emerged victorious on 19 tight seats after tense battles, Asfandyar Wali Khan’s Awami National Party (ANP) had won 8 of these seats and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal or MMA (minus Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan and Jamiat Ahle Hadith) had prevailed on 5 such seats.
Interestingly, not fewer than 8 independent candidates (who still do not hold allegiance to any party) had defeated their rivals with a margin of 10,000 votes or less during the 2008 polls.
Similarly, MQM had bagged 2 of these hot seats after neck-and-neck fights, Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao Group) and the JUI-F (after disintegration of MMA) had returned successful each on one such seat.
Political analysts and politicians can, of course, draw many more conclusions from this research that was undertaken with the aim to provide food for thought to the concerned quarters.
By studying the results of the above-mentioned constituencies deeply, political pundits would find that PPPP and its current allies in PML-Q, MQM, ANP and JUI-F (part of MMA at the time of election) had narrowly managed to save blushes on nearly 60 of the under review 88 seats, where the winning margin was 10,000 votes or less.
The 272 general seats, on which direct elections were held in February 2008, also include as many as 12 Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) seats, starting from NA-36 to NA-47.
But this research has not taken into account the six Fata seats (NA-36, NA-40, NA-41, NA-43, NA-44 and NA-46), because in all these constituencies, the total votes secured by the winning candidates were less than the criteria of 10,000 votes.
Similarly, in NA-262 (Qillah Abdullah, Balochistant), Haji Rozuddin of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal had won by getting 4,362 votes only.
Therefore, the question of winning by a margin of 10,000 votes (and plus) did not arise in all the afore-mentioned cases.
With winning margins given in brackets, here follows the list of the 88 National Assembly constituencies where the vote difference between the leading and the trailing candidates is 10,000 or less:
(1) NA-1: Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of ANP won by a margin of 6,549 votes. (2) NA-6: Masood Abbas of ANP: 8,864 votes. (3) NA-8: Aftab Sherpao of Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao): 304 votes. (4) NA-9: Nawabzada Muhammad Khan Hoti of ANP: 9,125 votes. (5) NA-10: Maulana Qasim of MMA: 6,634 votes. (6) NA-12: An independent candidate, Engineer Usman Khan Tarkai: only 89 votes. (7) NA-13: Pervaiz Khan Advocate of ANP: 7,200 votes. (8) NA-14: Pir Dilawar Shah of ANP: 8,119 votes. (9) NA-15: Mufti Ajmal Khan of MMA: 6,592 votes. (10) NA-16: Haider Ali Shah of ANP: 3,045 votes. (11) NA-20: Sardar Shah Jehan of PML-Q: 131 votes only). (12) NA-21: Laiq Muhammad Khan of JUI-F: 5,064 votes. (13) NA-22: Prince Nawaz Khan Alai of PML-Q: 2,045 votes. (14) NA-23: An independent candidate, Mehboobullah: 688 votes. He later joined PPPP. (15) NA-25: Atta-ur-Rehman of MMA: 3,177. (16) NA-26: Maulna Fazal-ur-Rehman of MMA: 1,339 votes. (17) NA-27: Humayun Saifullah of PML-Q: 9,505 votes. (18) NA-28: Istiqbal Khan of ANP: 614 votes. (19) NA-29: Muzaffer-ul-Mulk of ANP: 1,379 votes. (20) NA-30: Syed Allauddin of PPPP: 10,000 votes. (21) NA-32: Shahzada Mohi-ud-Din of PML-Q: 1,656 votes. (22) NA-33: Najmuddin Khan of PPPP: 1,632 votes. (23) NA-37: An independent candidate, Sajid Turi: 5,494 votes. (24) NA-45: An independent candidate, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri: 1,980 votes. (25) NA-49: Tariq Fazal of PML-N: 756 votes. (26) NA-51: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of PPPP: 8,733 votes. (27) NA-57: Sheikh Aftab of PML-N: 363 votes only. (28) NA-63: Raja Asad Khan of PML-N: 8,278 votes. (29) NA-64: Nadeem Afzal Gondal of PPPP: 5,240 votes. (30) NA-65: Ghias Ahmed Mela of PML-Q: 211 votes only. (31) NA-66: Tasneem Qureshi of PPPP: 5,104 votes. (32) NA-69: Sumaira Malik of PML-Q: 748 only. (33) NA-70: Shakir Bashir Awan of PML-N: 7,905 votes. (34) NA-72: An independent candidate, Humair Rokhri: 4,000 votes. He later joined PML-N. (35) NA-73: Another independent candidate, Abdul Majeed Khan: 1,130 votes. He later joined PML-N. (36) NA-76: Nawab Sher Waseer of PPPP: 2,226. (37) NA-81: Saeed Iqbal of PPPP: 9,686 votes. (38) NA-82: Sahibzada Fazal Karim of PML-N: 7,816 votes. (39) NA-83: Ijaz Virk Advocate of PPPP: 1,051 votes. (40) NA-87: Ghulam Bibi Bharwana of PML-Q: 7,745. (41) NA-89: Sheikh Waqas Akram of PML-Q: 6,839 votes. (42) NA-90: An independent candidate, Saima Akhtar Bharwana: 6,365 votes. (43) NA-94: Riaz Fatyana of PML-Q: 3,761 votes. (44) NA-95: Usman Ibrahim of PML-N: 7,885 votes. (45) NA-97: Bashir Virk of PML-N: 9,863 votes. (46) NA-100: PPPP’s Tassaduq Masood Khan: 4,000 votes. (47) NA-103: Liaqat Abbas Bhatti of PML-Q: 2,380 votes. (48) NA-107: Jamil Malik of PML-N: 6,048 votes. (49) NA-108: Tariq Tarar of PPPP: 5,707 votes. (50) NA-109: Nazar Gondal of PPPP: 6,677 votes. (51) NA-114: Zahid Hamid of PML-N: 6,008 votes. (52) NA-116: Tariq Anees of PPPP: 7,744 votes. (53) NA-129: Tariq Shabbir of PPPP: 7,546 votes. (54) NA-130: Samina Ghurki of PPPP: 3,650 votes. (55) NA-135: Birjees Tahir of PML-N: 4,151 votes. (56) NA-137: An Independent candidate, Saeed Zafar: 9,980 votes. (57) NA-139: Waseem Akhtar of PML-N: 7,447 votes. (58) NA-140: Sardar Asseff Ahmed Ali of PPPP: 9,436 votes. (59) NA-146: Manzoor Wattoo, an independent candidate who later joined PPPP: margin of only 990 votes. (60) NA-153: Dewan Ashiq Bukhari of PML-Q: margin of only 485 votes. (61) NA-154: Siddique Baloch of PML-Q: 2,351 votes. (62) NA-157: Hamid Yar Hiraj of PML-Q: margin of only 987 votes. (63) NA-158: Aslam Bodla of PML-Q: margin of only 756 votes. (64) NA-161: Ghulam Farid Kathia of PPPP: 5,444 votes. (65) NA-162: Zahid Iqbal of PPPP: 4,852 votes. (66) NA-163: Noman Langrial of PML-Q: 1,863 votes. (67) NA-164: Mansab Dogar of PML-N: margin of only 782 votes. (68) NA-168: Azeem Daultana of PPPP: 1,274 votes. (69) NA-169: Tehmina Daultana of PML-N: 3,109 votes. (70) NA-171: Sheraz Mehmood of PML-Q: 2,130 votes. (71) NA-173: Sardar Saif Khosa of PML-N: margin of only 378 votes. (72) NA-174: Jafar Leghari of PML-Q: 7,921 votes. (73) NA-176: Mohsin Qureshi of PPPP: 5,246 votes. (74) NA-178: Jamshed Dasti of PPPP: 6,389 votes. (75) NA-180: Qayyum Jatoi of PPPP: 5,128 votes. (76) NA-181: Sardar Bahadar Khan of PML-Q: 1,978 votes. (77) NA-187: Saud Majeed of PML-N: 7,883 votes. (78) NA-190: PPPP’s Abdul Ghafoor Chaudhary 7,583 votes. (79) NA-191: Afzal Sindhu of PPPP: 4,695 votes. (80) NA-200: Mian Mithoo of PPPP: 8,030 votes. (81) NA-202: PPPP’s Aftab Merani: 7,944 votes. (82) NA-240: Khawaja Sohail Mansoor of MQM: 7,179 votes. (83) NA-250: Khush Bakhat Shujaat of MQM: 7,633 votes. (84) NA-261: Moulvi Agha Muhammad of MMA: 7,486 votes. (85) NA-264: An independent candidate, Moulvi Asmatullah: 5,169 votes. (86) NA-269: An independent candidate, Muhammad Usman Advocate: 1,687 votes. (87) NA-270: Jam Muhammad Yousuf of PML-Q: 7,101 votes. (88) NA-271: An independent candidate Lt General (retd) Abdul Qadir, now a PML-N leader in Balochistan: 5,778 votes.
A journey down the memory lane would make most readers call to mind the fact that the 2008 polls had seen numerous known political faces disgraced and humiliated profoundly by their rivals.
Those who were sent weeping and reeling by their adversaries had included the likes of Humayun Akhtar Khan, Ch Shujaat Hussain, Ijaz-ul-Haq, Khurshid Kasuri, Hamid Nasir Chattha, Abida Hussain, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, PPPP’s Nawabzada Ghazanfer Gul, former National Assembly Speaker, Chaudhary Ameer Hussain, PPPP’s Secretary General Jahangir Badr, PML-Functional’s Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmud, Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwar, MMA’s Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Abdul Sattar Warrio of Sialkot, Major (retd) Habibullah Warraich, Mirza Ikhtiar Baig of PPPP, Begum Shahnaz Javed of PPPP, Ishaq Khan Khakwani of PML-Q, Mian Gul Adnan Aurangzeb (the grandson of the last royal ruler of Swat) and former Federal Minister, Dr Sher Afghan Niazi etc.
Although the ANP Chief, Asfandyar Wali Khan, had lost to an independent candidate, Usman Khan Tarkai, by just 89 votes in NA-12, he had succeeded in salvaging his pride by clinching the NA-7 seat.
Similarly, in NA-24, Faisal Karim Kundi (the incumbent Deputy Speaker of National Assembly) had trampled all over the JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, by a whopping margin of 37,509 votes, but the eminent cleric had managed to avert disgrace by a hair’s breadth by winning in NA-26 with a difference of just 1,339 votes.
PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had also managed to win one seat and enter the parliament after he was defeated by PML-N’s Faiz Tamman in NA-61 and PML-N’s Saud Majeed in NA-187.
Moreover, PML-N’s Tehmina Daultana had lost in NA-168, but lady luck smiled on her in NA-169.
These afore-stated facts thus signify that if the Pakistani public does not suffer from any form of dementia or grave memory lapses ahead of the future polling exercise, the current ruling regime in Islamabad and its allies might find it extremely difficult to taste triumph due to both incumbency factor and the huge financial scams that have surfaced right under their noses since March 2008.
And then, of course, various government functionaries and their cronies have already been found guilty by courts in these shameful rip-offs and a handful of these corrupt elements have even been sent to languish behind the bars by the Supreme Court despite stiff government resistance.
While it is vociferously calling for snap polls and while it is anticipating that the election bells will ring before the stipulated schedule, the PML-N would also have to improve its performance, especially if one takes into account the fact that smaller political entities or under-dogs like Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf etc are putting their best foot forward and have already re-launched in style to cash in on the situation.
Imran Khan, by the way, is striving hard to get the country’s unregistered youth enrolled as voters for the future polls, believing strongly that he would be the biggest beneficiary if that was done.
In case Imran’s belief is correct, the situation has surely taken an awkward turn for those who have been ridiculing the former Pakistan cricket captain for having failed to congregate the support of masses since the launch of his party more than 15 years ago.
Fasten your seat belts, as more drama is about to unfold in the wake of the Election Commission’s startling revelation a few months ago that some 37 million bogus or ghost voters were part of the voters’ lists used in the last election.
It is imperative to note that the number of registered voters in Pakistan currently rests at 81.2 million, minus the unregistered youth.
The break-up of dubious votes is as follows: 65 percent in Balochistan, 62 percent in Fata, 54 percent in Sindh, 43 percent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 41 percent in Punjab.
The legitimacy of the sitting Pakistani lawmakers thus stands severely damaged due to the afore-cited findings of the Election Commission.
If the Election Commission wizards somehow manage to remove the 37 million suspicious entries from the existing voters’ lists, the situation is bound to get a lot tougher for the incumbent national and provincial legislatures. Just to recollect, the PPPP had bagged 10.606 million votes in the last election, the PML-N had got 6.781 million nods from its voters, the PML-Q had found 7.989 million ballots cast in its favour, MQM had garnered support of 2.51 million Pakistanis, ANP could rally 0.7 million people and the MMA mandate was endorsed by another 0.773 million.