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ECP announced complete results of Balochistan constituencies

30 July, 2018

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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced complete results of all provincial and national assembly constituencies in Balochistan 64 hours after the close of polls. The long and unexpected delay not only resulted in severe criticism but also raised questions on the transparency of the process by the losing political parties.

The voter turnout in Balochistan was 45.2 percent, lowest among all provinces. However, his was slightly more than the 43 percent turnout in the province in 2013 elections, and could be attributed to the improved security situation. Seeing the queues of voters at polling stations, many political pundits had expected that the turnout could cross 50 percent but the slow pace of the polling process prevented that, as many voters remained unable to cast ballots across the province.

The recently-formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) dominated the elections by winning 15 out of 50 seats in the provincial assembly. The Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA), a coalition of religious parties dominated by JUI-F, scored nine seats. Baloch nationalist BNP-Mengal got seven seats, and PTI managed to get four seats. Five seats were won by independent candidates.

Given its outlook, the BAP was expected to be the leading party. It’s a group of electables who have secure seats. It lacked a party-based vote bank, and instead relied on the support of individual candidates. According to details released by the ECP, the BAP bagged 439,635 votes, the highest number of votes scored by a party in Balochistan. Interestingly, in terms of vote share, independent candidates came second with 318,787 votes. This goes on to show the dominance of individual candidates in the electoral politics of the province. Since BAP candidates were similar to the independents with their own individual vote banks, it meant that electables bagged more than three-quarters of a million votes in Balochistan. These individual candidates make the party system weak in Balochistan.

The BNP-Mengal managed to win a handful of seats due to its popularity among the Baloch population of the province. This party has not been in power for 20 years and that resulted in its voters coming out in large numbers on the polling day.

The MMA won due to a combination of its consolidated religious vote bank and support of electables. The alliance not only made gains in provincial assembly but it also dominated the share of National Assembly seats from Balochistan by winning five, followed by BAP that got four, BNP-Mengal three, and PTI two. MMA has pockets of strong support in the Pashtun belt, and it won almost all NA seats from there. Over the years, MMA and its main component JUI-F has retained a loyal vote bank in the region. This is a political blessing which no other party enjoys in Balochistan.

Another important trend in Balochistan was the emergence of PTI, that won four provincial and two NA seats. The success of PTI is a combination of its popularity all over the country and the support of electables who joined its ranks prior to elections.

Arguably the biggest upset in Balochistan elections was the defeat of PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai at the hands of Qasim Suri of PTI in NA-265. The PTI victory on this urban seat was purely based on the party’s popularity, and had nothing to do with the politics of electables, or of local factions.

Other bigwigs who lost elections in the province included the former home minister Sarfaraz Bugti. He lost from PB-10 Dera Bugti to Gohram Bugti, the grandson of late Nawab Akbar Bugti. Nawab Jangez Marri, the chieftain of Marri tribe, lost to the PTI candidate from his stronghold of PB-9 Kohlu. Former federal minister General (retd) Abdul Qadir lost elections from NA-268 and NA-270 against BNP-Mengal and BAP, respectively. Jam Kamal, the president of BAP, lost NA-272 Lasbela-Gwadar to the popular independent candidate Aslam Bhootani, but Kamal managed to win his provincial assembly seat from Lasbela.

The former federal Education Minister, Zubaida Jalal was the only woman candidate to have won a general seat (NA-271 Kech) in the province. She contested on the ticket of the BAP and defeated Jan Muhammad Dashti of BNP-Mengal and Syed Ahsan Shah of BNP-Awami.

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