The 2022 by-elections were a historic victory for PTI as its Chairman Imran Khan broke his own record and won a clear majority by clinching six out of the eight National Assembly seats and two out of the three Punjab Assembly seats up for grabs.
While the victory is a clear testament to Imran Khan’s popularity as a leader, the seats lost require some introspection on where PTI went wrong, especially the PP-139 Sheikhupura seat.
According to the unofficial results, PTI lost the Punjab Assembly Sheikhupura seat to PML-N. Pertinent to mention that PP-139 is the only seat won by PML-N. Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed was the PML-N candidate in Sharaqpur in Sheikhupura district against Mian Abubakar Sharaqpuri, a close relative of former MNA, MPA, and district nazim Mian Jaleel Sharaqpuri, who is now in the PTI. PML-N won by securing 33,734 votes.
The defeat in Sharaqpur is important because it was considered to be a secure seat for PTI due to the increasing vote bank and spiritual following of Jaleel Sharaquri’s group.
پی پی 139 شرقپور کی عوام کا بھی فیصلہ- ووٹ صرف کپتان کا۔
— PTI (@PTIofficial) October 16, 2022
Moreover, PTI Chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan himself politically campaigned by holding a rally at Sharaqpur just days ahead of the by-elections. Therefore, PTI is taking the loss of Sharaqpur pretty hard.
Interestingly, PTI sources claim that an internal review is being demanded to determine where PTI went wrong in Sharaqpur. PTI sources also claim that Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar did not perform his responsibilities well and was unavailable for the most part. Meanwhile, PTI Central Punjab President Dr. Yasmin Rashid worked hard, however, she needed more support for a strong political campaign from her younger peers which she did not receive. Moreover, it is also being claimed that Mian Abubakar Sharaqpuri failed to fulfill the development promises made to Sharaqpur.
PTI’s defeat in Multan
PTI lost only two National Assembly seats; NA 157 Multan-IV and NA-237 Malir-II. PTI Chairman Imran Khan contested all the NA seats except one that is NA-157 Multan where the party fielded Meher Bano Qureshi, the daughter of party vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi against PDM’s candidate Ali Musa Gilani.
The decision to field Meher Bano Qureshi became the target of much controversy as PTI was accused of promoting dynastic politics. The culture of dynastic politics is extremely predominant in Pakistan where PPP run by the Bhutto-Zardari family and PML-N run by the Sharif clan are in power.
From PPP, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the prime minister in 70’s, his daughter Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto also became the prime minister, meanwhile, her husband Asif Ali Zardari served as the president. Now their son Bilawal Bhutto is the Foreign Minister.
On the other hand, from PML-N, Nawaz Sharif served as the prime minister for three non-consecutive terms. The incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan is his brother Shehbaz Sharif who was also once the Chief Minister of Punjab. Shehbaz Sharif’s son Hamza recently became the Chief Minister of Punjab however he was ousted.
— Abid Ghufran (@notbeyonddoubt) October 17, 2022
When PTI came into politics and subsequently into power, it was extremely against dynastic politics and vowed to put an end to it. PTI Chairman Imran Khan has also, on numerous occasions, lashed out at PPP and PML-N for promoting dynastic politics.
Therefore, when Meher Bano Qureshi was chosen to contest NA-157 by-polls, urban PTI supporters questioned the change in PTI ideology and wondered whether there was not anyone more qualified in Multan than Meher Bano, who previously worked as a journalist. It was already expected that PTI will lose NA 157 polls.