Of the six by-elections held over the week, the only seat bagged by the PTI with a thin margin, has been challenged. Four by-elections have been won by the opposition candidates with convincing leads. The PPP defeated the PTI in the two Sindh constituencies with a margin of over 40,000 votes in one constituency and by 19,000 in the other. On both seats the PTI got lesser votes than in the 2018 elections, indicating a reduction in its appeal. In Balochistan, the JUI(F )defeated BAP’s candidate by over 17 thousand votes. In KP’s Nowshera PMLN defeated PTI’s candidate by over 7,0000 votes. That the PTI had won the seat in 2018 again indicates a reduction in its popularity. In Punjab, the PML(N) candidates on PP-51 defeated PTI by a lead of over 5000 votes.
The opposition’s victories were predicable. Despite all the help provided by those who matter in the 2018 elections, the PTI managed to scrape through as the single largest party without an overall majority. By the end of half of its tenure it is nowhere near fulfilling any of its major election promises like 10 million jobs and 5 million homes. Contrarily the number of the unemployed has risen phenomenally during the last two years. What has hit the common man most during the PTI’s tenure is the unending rise in the prices of basic food items and the power, gas and petrol prices. Failing to end the endemic corruption in government offices that hurts the common man most, Mr Imran Khan has reconciled himself it by maintaining that the only corruption that harms the country is by the Prime Minister and his cabinet members.
Keen to wrest Daska (NA-75) from the PML(N), the PM had assigned the task to his trusted lieutenant Usman Dar. Despite the incidents of firing that led to two mortalities, the unofficial results by late night indicated the PML(N)’s Nousheen Iftikhar was winning by a margin of over 15,000 votes. Then suddenly polling staff from 20 polling stations disappeared along with results. Only a losing candidate resorts to rigging at the eleventh hour.
What is at stake now is the ECP’s credibility. One expects the commission to urgently undertake a transparent enquiry. Any perception of its yielding to pressure would cause widespread distrust.