Imran Khan’s PTI retained the bye-election held for the National Assembly seat in Peshawar (NA-04); this was the second election in the last one month, to be keenly followed. The first one took place in Lahore last month; PML-N retained the seat vacated by Nawaz Sharif.
What does the NA-04 election results say? PTI had won the NA-04 seat for the first time in 2013 general elections with a big margin; it had then received around 55,000 votes. PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami received around 20,400 and 16,400 votes respectively. Previous six elections between 1988 and 2008, except for the 2002 elections, were won by the PPP and the ANP. The former had won three times, and the latter twice during 1988 and 2008. Naseerullah Babar, the PPP stalwart and Pakistan’s interior minister during the mid-1990s got elected from this seat.
PTI would like to project the NA-04 victory as a success for its policies within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since 2013. The PTI would want to take this forward into the forthcoming elections for National and Provincial Assemblies in 2018. The PTI marches on.
The Awami National Party (ANP) has come second, winning around 24,800 votes. Peshawar was once an ANP stronghold. Does this reflect an ANP resurgence in KP? ANP, and not PML-N would be the primary challenge to the PTI.
The PML-N, though polled few thousand votes more than the previous election, it has come a close third, winning around 24,400 votes. This despite, both Fazlur Rahman (JUI-F) and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpa (QWP) withdrawing their candidates favouring the PML-N. The PML-N is likely to lose further ground in the KP.
The PPP’s rout in NA-04 is clear, as has been the case with the NA-120; despite getting the son of Gulzar Khan (the PTI MNA from the constituency who passed away recently and the reason for the bye-election) to contest to from the PPP, it could get no sympathy votes. Both the PPP and the ANP used to win the seat since 1988. The decline of PPP in Punjab and KP is clear and should be a major cause to worry.
So is the decline of the Jamaat-e-Islami, providing space for radical groups. JI polled around 15,000 votes in 2013, but could manage only 7,400 this time. The Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan, contesting for the first time has polled around 9,400 votes, 2000 more than the JI. Another first timer - the MML (the political front of the JuD) supported independent got around 3,600. Together, the Labaik and MML are gaining ground – a trend observed in Lahore NA-120 as well.
The above analysis is based on the provisional results based on newspaper sources. Once the election results are officially announced, there could be a better reading of other issues as well.