Imran to ‘personally oversee’ campaign in second phase after KP elections upset

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) faced an upset on multiple seats in the first phase of local government elections in the home turf of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa, conceded Tuesday his party “made mistakes” but asserted the ruling party will emerge “stronger” in the second phase.

Provisional results of the first-ever local government elections in the border province following the 2018 merger of tribal districts showed the PTI losing ground to the opposition parties — especially rival Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) that managed to grab 15 seats, the highest, of mayors/chairmen in Sunday’s elections for 63 tehsils.

The results of 39 tehsils declared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday showed the hardline party also gave a stiff competition in many other tehsils where its candidates stood as runners-up.

In Peshawar alone, the JUI-F stunned the PTI by securing a definitive lead in the contest for the prized office of the city mayor. Its candidate Haji Zubair Ali secured 62,388 votes against 50,659 secured by Rizwan Bangash of PTI.

Of the remaining six tehsil chairman seats in Peshawar, the JUI-F managed to clinch four while the PTI could bag one seat of tehsil chairman.

“Wrong candidate selection was a major cause” of defeat, the prime minister said. He also announced to personally oversee the party’s election strategy in the second phase of elections, and subsequent local government polls across Pakistan.

FIRST PHASE

In the first phase, 17 districts — Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, Khyber, Mohmand, Mardan, Swabi, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Haripur, Buner and Bajaur — went into the elections which were held after a period of six years and marked by scattered incidents of violence.

Over 12.6 million registered voters — 7 million male and 5 million female voters — decided the fate of 37,752 candidates contesting for various seats.

The voting was postponed in three tehsils — located in Swabi, Bannu and Darra Adam Khel — due to disturbances, including an explosion in Bajaur, purported abduction of polling staff in Bannu, a clash in Karak and a mob attack on the car of Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz in Kohat.

Over 2,000 contestants have been elected unopposed in the elections. 217 candidates on general seats, 876 on women and 285 on farmers seats were elected unopposed.

An additional 500 youth and 154 minority candidates were also declared successful.

Stringent security arrangements were adopted. 77,000 policemen and law-enforcement personnel were deployed outside polling stations and booths for the security of voters.

CCTV cameras were installed at sensitive locations and it was prohibited to carry weapons or electronic devices in all polling stations.

As many as 19,285 people contested for general seats of the village, and neighbourhood councils, 3,870 for women, 7,428 for farmers and labour, 6,011 for youth and 293 for minorities.

676 candidates contested for 65 seats of the city mayor and tehsil chairperson. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is the only party that fielded candidates for all 65 seats.

JUI-F fielded 59 candidates, ANP was in the third spot with 55, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) 51, Jamaat-i-Islami 47, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) 43, Qaumi Wattan Party (QWP) 14 and 305 independents are hoping to secure victory.

Every voter was allowed to cast six votes, the colour of the ballot paper was different for different seats, the white ballot paper was used for city mayor/tehsil chairman. Silver colour had been allotted for the general seat of the neighbourhood/village council.

Local government elections in 35 districts were scheduled to be held in two phases.

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