Islamabad LG polls: Can PML-N foresee its future?



Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has emerged as the winner in first local government elections in Islamabad, leading against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The electoral arena comprises of two constituencies of the National Assembly: NA-48 won by PTI’s Asad Umar and NA-49, which went to PML-N’s Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry. According to unofficial results, PML-N won 21 seats while the PTI got 16, and independent candidates pocketed 13 seats of the union councils. The elections were conducted in 32 rural and 18 urban Union Councils and according to unofficial results; PML-N and PTI have showed a neck-to-neck contest in rural as well as urban areas of the Capital. PTI has won a seat in Union Council-37 (G-10/1 and G-10/2) where its candidate for Chairman, Malik Sajid Mehmood captured 1,122 votes against a candidate of PML-N, Ch. Iftikhar, who grabbed 1,048 votes. Ali Awan, another PTI candidate, won the slot of Chairman from UC-40. The most interesting was that independent candidates also claimed 13 seats. Just over 2,400 candidates contested the 650 seats up for the taking. What was encouraging was that at least nine candidates belonging to minority groups were returned unopposed from their union councils. There were, however, no candidates for minorities on the reserved seats in 13 union councils. The chief election commissioner has expressed satisfaction over the polling. Election day proceeded peacefully, with very few incidents of unrest or unfair play reported. There was one report of a voter in Union Council 37 who discovered that his vote had been polled before he visited the booth. His thumb impression and vote has been kept in a sealed envelope for further investigation. Perhaps it is here that the biometric system of NADRA can come into play. The fact that the polls were uneventful is essentially excellent news. We seem to have been able to complete an important electoral exercise without any trouble. The closely contested election in an area where local government polls had never been held before has been completed. There were a few surprises with Imran Khan’s own union council seat going to the PML-N, and sitting MNAs were also unable to see candidates from their own party win in their union councils. The local bodies process in Islamabad is then over, and the manner in which it was held suggests the ECP has conducted it well with almost no complaints of unfair play.