According to provisional results released early on Friday, the PPP’s Qadir Khan Mandokhail emerged victorious in the NA-249 by-election in Karachi after securing 16,156 votes. PML-N’s Miftah Ismail came in second with 15,473 votes, followed by the candidate from the recently banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Mufti Nazeer Ahmed Kamalvi, who secured 11,125 votes, unofficial results showed.
However, the TLP leadership has claimed to win the election. As per several videos of the TLP leaders on social media, the party claims that “form 45 is with us and we have won the election.”
NA-249, Karachi West II, was created in 2018 by amalgamating areas that previously fell in two NA constituencies (NA-239 and NA-240) during three general elections held from 2002 to 2013. The seat had fallen vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned over his dual nationality controversy and became a senator.
On the other hand, the ruling party’s Amjad Afridi with 8,922 votes. PTI has rejected the results of the by-election.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the PPP’s conduct over a single seat has highlighted the need for electoral reforms.
پیپلز پارٹی نے ایک نشست کیلئے جس طرح نظام کو یرغمال بنایا اس سے الیکشن اصلاحات کی ضرورت کا احساس پہلے سے بھی زیادہ شدت محسوس ہوتا ہے، ایک بار پھر اپوزیشن سے کہتا ہوں @ImranKhanPTI کی تجاویز پر غور کریں ووٹنگ کی شرح سے اندازہ ہوتا ہے عوام کا انتخابی عمل سے اعتبار ختم ہو رہا ہے
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) April 30, 2021
“Once again I urge the opposition to consider Prime Minister Imran Khan’s suggestion. The voting percentage shows that the people are losing faith in the process.”
Federal Minister for Shipping and Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi claimed it was “obvious the crooked PPP and the provincial election commission were hand in glove in this mess!”
It is obvious to all that the crooked PPP & the Provincial Election Commission are hand in glove in this mess!
— Ali Haider Zaidi (@AliHZaidiPTI) April 29, 2021
TLP, a banned organization contesting elections?
Notably, the government has started the process to freeze the assets of the proscribed TLP. Earlier, the Ministry of Interior issued a notification in which it said the TLP “is engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country and is involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public.”
Geo News reported that the passports and bank accounts of the central leadership of the TLP will be blocked, adding that such actions are being taken as per rule 11-E of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
Arms licenses issued to the organisation’s leadership and workers will be suspended as well, said sources. The State Bank of Pakistan and provincial revenue departments will play their role in freezing the assets of the organisation.
When these steps are taken, TLP members will not be able to buy or sell land and neither will they be able to access their bank accounts. The government has, as per sources, written to the relevant authorities in all four provinces to freeze the party’s assets.
Why was TLP protesting?
The TLP was protesting blasphemous caricatures published in France and demanding that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned. The government reached an agreement with the TLP on Nov 16 to involve the parliament to decide the matter in three months.
As the Feb 16 deadline neared, the government expressed its inability to implement the agreement and sought more time. The TLP agreed to delay its protest by two-and-a-half months to April 20.
On Sunday, Mr Rizvi, in a video message, asked the TLP workers to be ready to lunch the long march if the government failed to meet the deadline. It prompted the government to arrest the TLP chief.
Notably, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said it was the responsibility of the state to ensure the protection of the public against riots and also establish the writ of the state. Therefore, he added, the government had decided to ban Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan in the larger interest of the public and state.
While condemning the violence, vandalism and ransacking of public and private properties and attacks on policemen, the opposition PPP criticized the PTI government for what it said abdicating its responsibility.