Pakistan Reader# 544, 30 January 2023
On 29 January, the PTI announced that it would be contesting in the by-elections on 33 National Assembly seats. While announcing the decision Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “There was a long discussion and debate, and the party decided that it would participate in the by-polls for the 33 seats.” He added that Imran would be the party’s sole candidate on all 33 NA seats, making him the first person in the country’s history to run for a sizeable number of seats. Qureshi added that the lawmakers elected earlier on those seats would submit paperwork as “covering candidates.”
This decision comes after the seats had fallen vacant after NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted 35 more resignations of PTI lawmakers on 17 January, following which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the schedule for polls on 33 NA seats for 16 March.
Later, the speaker accepted more resignations after the ECP de-notified their position, taking the total number of those de-notified this month to 113, including 86 members elected on general seats, 23 on reserved seats for women and four on reserved seats for religious minorities. However, poll schedule for the rest of 53 will be issued by the ECP shortly.
The by-polls will be held in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Khyber, Jhelum, Bhakkar and other areas.
PTI points out to ‘gross violation’ of the constitution
While addressing the press, Qureshi claimed that the PTI had sacrificed its two governments while taking the constitutional route to ensure timely elections. He said, “Now we ask the judiciary to take action over the violations of the Constitution. The ruling coalition is afraid of holding elections in both the provinces. Political engineering is being carried out in the NA by-elections.” Further, Asad Umar urged President Alvi to take notice of the “harassment” of the PTI leaders and activists as well as the “human rights violations” in the country.
PTI’s by-election winning streak
The PTI’s decision to have Imran Khan contest for the 33 seats in the upcoming NA polls makes him the first person in Pakistan’s history to contest for a large number of seats. The decision also put the ruling coalition under pressure if his popularity gives him the edge in these elections.
Previously, in October 2022, Imran Khan set a record after he won seven out of nine NA seats for the PTI in a by-election including NA-22 (Mardan), NA-24 (Charsadda), NA-31 (Peshawar), NA-108 (Faisalabad), NA-118 (Nankana Sahib), NA-239 (Korangi), and NA-45 (Kurram). The contestation was seen as a direct fight between the PTI and the current ruling coalition.
PTI’s strategy of en mass resignations
The PTI resigned en masse in April 2022 following the removal of Imran Khan from power. Initially, only 11 resignations were accepted in July. However, in an alleged attempt to thwart PTI’s plans of bring a confidence motion against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 113 members of the month of January, including 86 members from the general seats. Following this, the ECP de-notified 35 each on 17 and 20 January and 43 on 25 January.
Iftikhar A. Khan, “By-polls on 86 NA seats in March: ECP official,” Dawn, 30 January 2023
Imran Adnan, “Imran to contest NA by-polls on all 33 seats,” The Express Tribune, 30 January 2023
“More pressure on govt: Imran to run for 33 seats in NA by-polls,” The News International, 30 January 2023