Coming from five seats behind in the first phase of local body elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) outclassed its main rival and the winner of the first round Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI F) in the final phase of the electoral process in the remaining 18 districts of the province on March 31.
Elections were held in 65 tehsils of the province while 11 tehsils will have to go for a re-polling at a later date. PTI secured victory on 24 out of the 54 contested seats and is seemingly in the pole position on at least seven more seats. PTI’s main challenger JUI clinched a joint second position along with independent candidates, each securing eight seats.
In the first phase, PTI had secured 18 mayoral seats compared to JUI’s 23. While Independents had secured 10 seats in the first outing.
As expected, and predicted by Bol News, PTI outperformed all its rivals in Malakand, Swat, Shangla and Chitral. Imran Khan’s party also outdone rivals Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML N) and Jamat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI) on their home grounds in Abbottabad and Dir respectively.
Steering the ship in his home district Swat, and Malakand and Shangla, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan managed to deliver that earned him praise from the PM Imran Khan. PTI won all three tehsil seats in Malakand while the party missed a near perfect score in seven tehsils Swat as six PTI candidates secured victories while Haider Ali Khan lost his seat in Charbagh to JUI’s Ihsanullah Khan by just over 2,600 votes.
Similarly, in Shangla PTI candidates bagged three seats while it came runner-up against Awami National Party in Martung tehsil. PML won the remaining seat in Chakesar by beating JUI candidate there.
Fighting the stiff challenge of JI, the Thereek-e-Insaf candidates won four out of seven seats in Lower Dir while coming runner-up to JUI candidate in one constituency. ANP and JI won the remaining two seats. Similarly, in Upper Dir, PTI won two seats and came runner-up on three seats. JI managed to win two seats while PML and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) each secured a victory in the remaining two tehsils. The results in both Dir’s hint at the rise of PTI and a seeming end of JI’s politics in the districts they once would win comfortably against any party or candidate.
In the north in Lower Chitral, PTI won a seat but lost the other to PPP by a narrow margin of just 110 votes. However, the ruling party clinched victory on both seats further up North in Upper Chitral.
Abbottabad and Mansehra have remained PML strongholds in many elections. The party would win majority seats from the region before the rise of PTI in 2013. In the local body elections, PTI continued challenging the PML strength, thanks to the influence of PTI members of provincial assembly, especially speaker KP assembly Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, PTI won two seats in Abbottabad and one in Mansehra.
Interestingly, PML also won two seats in Abbottabad and one in Mansehra while an independent candidate bagged victory on one seat in Mansehra.
Maulana Fazalur Rahman’s party were able to perform well in the first outing but that victory seems a joy of the past as the religious party couldn’t repeat their joyride. JUI candidates got first position on one seat each in Battagram, Bandak/Ranolia tehsil in Lower Kohistan and Kandia tehsil in Upper Kohistan.
While, independents won one seat each in Pattan tehsil of Lower Kohistan and Seo tehsil in Upper Kohistan, former Chief Minister KP and former Federal Minister of Interior Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) defeated all opponents on one seat in Harban/Basha tehsil of Upper Kohistan district.
JUI were expected to perform well in all three tehsils of Torghar district. However, it could manage winning only one seat in Judbah. Independent candidates won the seats in Hassanzai and Dour Mera tehsils.
The Independents and local parties were the main performers in the districts situated to the south, south-west of the provincial capital Peshawar. Kurram Tribal District chose Muzzamil Hussain of Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen above all other candidates while Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party’s Muhammad Tariq secured victory in Lower Orakzai Tribal District. JUI candidate was able to win the second seat in Orakzai district.
Meanwhile, both seats in North Waziristan Tribal District and one seat in South Waziristan Tribal District were won by independent candidates.
Elections could not take place in one tehsil each in South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kolai Palas (Lower Kohistan), Mansehra, Abbottabad, Kurram, Upper Kohistan, Battagram and Malakand.
The fact that PTI has secured more seats in the local body elections is arguably a good sign for the province as the results will make daily business going smoothly between the local body representatives and the provincial government, which is in no mood to let go the power reins despite the party suffering humiliation in the centre.
From the looks of it, PTI will try holding on to power in KP and will use their might in the province to once again shift to ‘Pervez Khattak-like’ mode of challenging whoever rules Islamabad for the remaining tenure of the elected assemblies. After winning 2013 elections in KP, PTI used the provincial government led by Pervez Khattak to continuously confront with the PML N rule in the centre.