According to the official results of 16 seats of provincial assembly in newly merged tribal districts of KPK, six seats went to independents, five to the PTI, three to the JUI-F and one each to the Awami National Party and Jamaat-e-Islami. One seat in North Waziristan went to an independent candidate affiliated with the PTM. The people of former tribal areas have given their verdict.
The results are significant given that they provide an indication of people’s political convictions and thinking in the former tribal areas. Prior to the polls, there were predictions that a large number of people would come forward to cast their first ever votes for the provincial assembly. The turnout remained low at 26 percent contrary to expectations.
The fact that around 18 percent of women turned out to vote was encouraging given that in these areas political groups have in the past reached agreements barring women from casting ballots. What is more significant for the future is what these elections will bring to the former Fata areas in terms of much needed development work and how people will be served by the candidates they have voted in.
PTI was expecting to sweep the historic elections in newly merged tribal districts in KPK province. But the night of 20 July came as big disappointment for PTI supporters and leaders. The PTI put up a poor show in these elections. PTI was expecting to win at least 12 seats but ended up with only 05 seats. The ACE News in its predictions indicated that PTI could win 06 seats. The PTI lost all the three seats in Khyber district against independent candidates.
The main reasons of this lackluster performance are attributed to the bad decisions of awarding tickets, over estimation of its popularity and rising inflation. The party ignored many potential candidates while awarding the party tickets. The same candidates stood as independent candidates and defeated the official candidates of PTI. The PTI leadership overestimated the popularity of PTI as a party in some constituencies. It seems that within a year, PTI has lost support in the tribal areas. There were high hopes in the masses that PTI government will bring much needed relieve to them but instead the PTI government brought high inflation and price hike.
In some constituencies, the PTI workers and supporters blamed the sitting MNAs and party leaders for the defeat. They accused them for nepotism and making wrong decisions in awarding the tickets. The selection of candidates played important role in the defeat of PTI candidates.
The PTI has also announced it will be taking action against members who contested as independents. These candidates, reflecting displeasure with the official ticket allocation by the party, divided up the PTI vote in some constituencies.
The success of independent candidate Shafiq Afridi and his close relative Bilawal Afridi in PK 105 Khyber I and PK 106 Khyber II suggested strong support for the role Shafiq Afridi had played in strongly recommending the merger of the tribal districts into KP. The area is a tradition stronghold for the JUI-F and the PTI, which also benefits from the fact that it is the ruling party in the province. This pattern has been seen consistently in Pakistan with voters hoping rulers will be better able to solve their issues.
The personal influence, wealth and tribal backing of the independent candidates played key role in their success. The strong and influential candidates belonging to traditional political and tribal families have done better in the elections than the candidates of political parties. They establish their authority in their respective constituencies.
This is also something the major political parties will need to think about. They need an agenda that convinces people to cast their votes in favour of these parties and demonstrate confidence in their ability to deliver on their promises.
The number of independent candidates is significant because according to election rules any elected member who declares affiliation with a party within three days of the publication of the official results will count as a member of that party when it comes to deciding the four reserved seats for women and minorities under the proportional representational system.
PTI needs to learn from these elections that nothing can be taken for granted in politics. PTI needs to fulfill its promises otherwise it will pay a price for non-delivery of its promises. It is a wakeup call for PTI before the local government elections in KPK, Punjab and Baluchistan. It needs to improve its governance and delivery of services.
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