PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Sunday retained its National Assembly (NA-33) seat in Hangu in the by-election as its candidate Nadeem Khan defeated his close rival Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s Ubaidullah, with a margin of 4,430 votes.
According to unofficial results, Mr Khan secured 21,583 votes against 17,153 votes of the JUI-F candidate, in an election marred by low turnout. The NA-33 seat had fallen vacant with PTI MNA Khayal Zaman Orakzai’s death on Feb 14. The PTI then nominated his son, Nadeem Khan, for the by-poll.
However, with the recent mass resignations of 123 PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly amid a no-trust move against Imran Khan, party sources believed that the candidate representing Hangu may follow suit by resigning from the assembly after taking the oath.
It was surprising for many that while on the one hand, PTI members had quit the NA over the “Lettergate” controversy that the party claimed had led to the ouster of Imran’s government, but on the other hand, the same party’s candidate contested the by-polls for NA seat.
On Twitter, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry posted that the party emerged victorious despite its workers knowing that Nadeem Khan would resign after taking oath. “There is no such precedence of trust in the leadership by the workers,” he said.
Observers said the voters of Hangu district showed little interest in the polling process due to multiple reasons, including political uncertainty in the country, hot weather condition and a day of fasting.
Unlike previous polls, no crowds were seen inside and outside polling stations. The polling process, which started at 8pm and continued till 5pm without any break, remained largely peaceful, with no report about any major incident of violence.
An official of the Election Commission of Pakistan said they had expected a low turnout in the polling, as voters, especially female voters, avoided coming out of their homes in the month of Ramazan.
Under an agreement among the locals, sources said, female voters were not allowed to vote in the Chapri Naryab area where a combined polling station was established at the government high school.