Monday March 04, 2024

PTI-backed independents bag 97 seats in NA, PMLN 72, PPP 53

Punjab Assembly has 371 total seats, including 297 general seats, 66 seats reserved for women and eight reserved for non-Muslims

February 10, 2024
Journalists stand in front of a screen showing the results of countrys parliamentary elections at the Pakistan Election Commission office on February 9, 2024. — Online
Journalists stand in front of a screen showing the results of country's parliamentary elections at the Pakistan Election Commission office on February 9, 2024. — Online

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/KARACHI/PESHAWAR: As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) continued announcing the election results for National and provincial assemblies till late Friday night, the the PTI-backed independents, including the PTI-backed candidates, had won 97 seats with the PMLN and PPP securing 72 and 53 seats respectively.

Others parties had won 25 seats till filling of the report — PMLQ 3, Pakhtunkhwa National Awami Party 1, MQMP 15, JUI-F 3, Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party 2, Masjils-e-Wahdatul-Muslimen (MWM) 1, Balochistan National Party 2, Haq Do Tehreek Balochistan 1, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) 1, PML-Zia 1.

Unofficial results of the election to the provincial assembly seats declared by the returning officers/Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) till late Friday night showed that the PMLN would be in a position to form the government in Punjab, PPP will retain the Sindh government, PTI-supported independents group to get Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa again, while a coalition government seems in the making in Balochistan.

The Punjab Assembly has 371 total seats, including 297 general seats, 66 seats reserved for women and eight reserved for non-Muslims. Till the filing of the report, the PMLN was leading with 133 seats, followed by PTI-backed Independents showing a strength of 117, other independents were 23, PPP securing 10 seats, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PMLQ) six and Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP), Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and PML-Zia one seat each.

Till the filing of the report, the PTI-supported candidates had won 84 seats of the 113-member KP Assembly, as per the unofficial results of the general election. The majority of PTI leaders was in hiding and could not even participate in the election campaign physically but their family members, relatives and friends, particularly party workers, played a key role in their election campaigns. Of the 113-member house, a political party needs 73 members to form a government. Also, besides the provincial assembly, PTI has emerged as the leading party in KP by winning the maximum seats in the National Assembly.

The party leadership told The News they never expected such a huge mandate in the election. “We were expecting 30-35 seats in the provincial assembly but this trust of people in PTI is unbelievable,” one PTI MNA-elect told The News on condition of anonymity.

When contacted, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, a PTI leader and an aide to the party founder Imran Khan, told The News that they would not need any other political party’s help to form the KP government but, even then, they were making consultations about their future strategy. The PTI leadership was considering multiple options including joining another political party to get the reserved seats as the party candidates took part in the elections as independents after losing the bat election symbol.

“We are safe to form our own government in KP and do not require any political party. But to get reserved seats, we will need to join a political party,” he argued.

Asked if they were in consultations with Jamaat-e-Islami and that PTI MPAs could join the JI to form a government in KP, Barrister Saif said nothing had been finalised. “We are still considering whether we should join a political party to get reserved seats or form a government without any other party,” the PTI leader argued.

He said they needed to have a political party as all their MPAs had been elected in an independent capacity and their concern is if a disqualification clause can be enforced on independent MPA or MNA if they quit their party and join another one.

“If we don’t have a political party or are not affiliated with a particular party, we will always be dependent on these independent MPAs. There will be an unstable government and that’s why we are considering all these options,” said Barrister Saif.

He said the final decision would be made by the party leader Imran Khan. “As I stated this is an easy decision for us to make; if we join a political party, then the party will become our identity and have to follow their manifesto and policies. We are under pressure to take some important decisions because of the constitutional limitations,” Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif explained.

About the future chief minister, he said nobody had been proposed yet, saying Imran Khan would decide that. The PTI leadership was taken by surprise when it came to know about the loss of two former provincial ministers, Taimur Saleem Jhagra and Kamran Khan Bangash. Taimur Jhagra was supposed to be the party candidate for the chief minister’s position.

Taimur Jhagra told The News: “I have discussed with my lawyer and will register an FIR against the DRO Peshawar (DC Peshawar Afaq Wazir), and the Returning Officer for PK79 Arshad Afridi for corrupt practices in brazenly manipulating election results and violating the election act.”

The independent candidates on PTI tickets had defeated senior politicians including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Sirajul Haq, Amir Muqam, Aimal Wali Khan and three former chief ministers Pervez Khattak, Mahmood Khan and Ameer Haider Hoti.

Some of the PTI candidates elected to the National Assembly include PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, who defeated ANP’s Abdur Rauf Khan in the only National Assembly seat in Buner. He bagged 110,023 votes against his rival’s 30,302 votes. Former speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and Shahram Khan Tarakai won both seats in the lower house from their native Swabi district. Atif Khan, Mujahid Khan and Ali Mohammad Khan were elected members National Assembly from Mardan, where PTI has won all the National and provincial assembly seats. Mujahid Khan and Ali Mohammad Khan made history as it was for the third time they were consecutively elected members of the lower house.

In Nowshera, the PTI candidate Syed Shah Ahmad Ali Shah defeated Pervez Khattak on NA-33 by a huge margin. Shandana Gulzar was the only woman candidate who contested the election for a general seat on the PTI ticket and became an MNA. She defeated PTI’s former parliamentarian Nasir Khan Musazai. Musazai had quit PTI and joined Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. She bagged 78,971 votes against 20,950 for Nasir Musazai.

Till the filing of the report, the PPP seemed in a comfortable position to form the Sindh government for the fourth consecutive time, as it emerged as the leading party in the province by securing 84 out of 130 seats of the provincial assembly, according to unofficial and unconfirmed results of the General Election 2024. The party also won 40 National Assembly seats from the province. The MQMP was trailing for the second position with 26 provincial assembly seats and 15 National Assembly seats in the province.

Independent candidates, largely supported by the PTI, secured 14 provincial assembly seats, while Jamaat-e-Islami and the GDA got two seats each. The Sindh Assembly comprises 130 general seats, with an additional 29 reserved for women and nine for minority communities. Furthermore, the province contributes 75 seats to the National Assembly, including 61 general seats and 14 reserved for women.

The interesting factor of the 2024 elections was that the heads of three major nationalist parties of the province -- Syed Zain Shah of the Sindh United Party (SUP), Dr Qadir Magsi of Sindh Taraqqi Pasand Party (STP) and Ayaz Palijo of the Qaumi Awami Party (QAT) -- contested from Shaheed Benazirabad, Tando Muhammad Khan and Hyderabad with the support of Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) but all the three lost with big margins to PPP candidates.

Most of the provincial cabinet including former Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah won their seats with heavy margins. Murad won from PS-77 of the Sehwan Sharif area in the Jamshoro district. Mohammad Ismail Rahu from Badin, Syed Nasir Hussain from Sukkur, Sardar Ali Shah from Umarkot, Imtiaz Ahmed Shaikh from Shikarpur, Jam Khan Shoro from Hyderabad, Sharjeel Inam Memon from Hyderabad, Nawab Shabbir Bijrani from Kashmore-Kandhkot and Saeed Ghani from Karachi retained their seats very easily.

Nawab Taimour Talpur from Umarkot and Arbab Lutufallah from Tharparkar also defeated their rivals from GDA and JUIF. Former Sindh minister Abdul Bari Pitafi lost the provincial seat in the Ghotki district. Nadir Akmal Leghari, an independent candidate, defeated Pitafi. Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani also won by defeating his rival Agha Taimour in the Shikarpur district.

The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has 65 seats, including 51 general seats, 11 reserved for women and three reserved for non-Muslims. Till the filing of the report, it seemed a coalition government would be formed by political parties, with the PPP and PMLN both securing nine seats each till the filing of the report. The JUIF won six seats and it is expected to win one more till the completion of results.

So far, five PTI-backed Independents also emerged victorious whereas amongst others, National Party grabbed five, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) four, followed by Balochistan National Party (BNP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and Awami National Party (ANP) with two seats each. Jamaat-e-Islami, Haq Do Tehreek-e-Balochistan and BNP-A grabbed one seat each.

To form the government, a party needs the support of at least 26 MPAs, and three parties, including the PPP, PMLN, JUIF and ANP, could comfortably form the coalition government.

In 2008, the PPP formed the government along with allies with Aslam Raisani as the CM. Most of the PPP MPAs, who won the 2024 elections, recently joined the party after the visit of PPPP head Asif Ali Zardari.