Islamabad: Against its own expectations, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has emerged as the second largest party in Monday’s local government elections, claiming the chairman’s slot in at least 16 of the 50 union councils in the federal capital.
Following their rout in the first and second phases of LG elections in Punjab and Sindh, the PTI leadership was hopeful of a decent showing in the capital, where it had twice won the NA-48 constituency in the 2013 elections, fielding Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and Asad Umar in the general and by-elections, respectively.
At a press conference on Tuesday, before official results were announced, Mr Umar claimed his party had obtained a decisive lead in 16 UCs adding that they hoped to add to the tally by the time the official results were announced.
Party claims victory in 11 out of 18 UCs that comprise NA-48; Asad Umar says party will contest election for mayor
Eleven of these 16 UCs are located within the limits of the NA-48 constituency, while the remaining five are located in the mostly-rural NA-49, which is the stronghold of PML-N’s Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.
Mr Umar demanded that the results be declared by the Election Commission of Pakistan as soon as possible. He contended that his party had serious reservations regarding the consolidation of results in at least seven UCs. “We are waiting for the final results, only then will we decide whether to challenge them or not.”
One of the PTI candidates even accused Dr Fazal Chaudhry of using police and local administration to influence results in favour of his cousin.
Buoyed by the party’s showing, Mr Umar announced that “we will seriously contest elections for the office of mayor and deputy mayors” in collaboration with independent candidates.
“Unlike the rural neighbourhoods, where ties of biradari continue to dominate the political arena, people in urban Islamabad vote on the basis of party affiliation. Most of the PTI winners are first time candidates and have only managed to win due to the party vote,” a senior PTI office bearer commented.
However, for senior journalist Amir Mateen, who has been covering politics in the capital for several decades now, it was the internal strife that put the local PML-N chapter on the back foot, giving PTI candidates an advantage they did not expect.
“PML-N leaders such as Ashraf Gujjar and Shujaur Rehman have been criticising Anjum Aqeel and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, the two men responsible for the party campaign in NA-48 and NA-49, respectively. They’ve been called land grabbers by their own party workers, something that certainly must have affected the ruling party candidates’ chances,” Mr Mateen said.
He also said that residents of the upscale areas, which were the ones that mostly voted for PTI candidates, had a different political outlook and had stood by the PTI. Under the circumstances — with the PML-N in-charge of the federal government and Capital Development Authority – winning this many seats was a good omen for Imran Khan’s party, he said.
A PTI office bearer, however, was less optimistic, saying that the party had only retained its vote and that there was nothing surprising about the result.
Sajjad Ahmad, a resident of Sector I-8, said that over the past few years, the PML-N government had all but destroyed the natural beauty of the city due to their obsession with flashy development projects.
“In Islamabad, we don’t need a metro bus service, we need basis civic amenities to be better managed. Unfortunately, this area is getting worse and worse by the day; all that we see around us is new construction, torn up roads and the propping up of new housing societies.”
Yasir Mehmood, who lives in Sector F-6 – which was also claimed by the PTI – argued that the PML-N had already been in power for over two and half years and had failed to put the CDA’s house in order.
“I voted for the PTI candidate because I believe he will, at the very least, raise his voice at the city council level.”
Read :PML-N leads Islamabad LB polls with 21 seats, PTI gets 19