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PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that his ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, had paid the price for “mistakes” in the recent local elections and that he would personally oversee the future strategy of his team’s campaign after a PTI candidate lost a coveted mayoral seat in a province the premier’s party has led since 2013.
Local elections were held on Sunday in 17 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest Pakistan. This is the first time that such polls have been held in areas that were once part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which merged with the KP in 2018.
In a second phase, local elections will be held in the remaining 18 districts of the KP on January 16. Local elections are also scheduled for the coming months in the other provinces of Pakistan.
The unofficial results of the KP polls, reported by media and local election officials, showed that Zubair Ali, the candidate of the religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, had won the seat of the mayor of the provincial capital of Peshawar, defeating PTI’s Rizwan Bangash.
“The PTI made mistakes during the 1st phase of the KP LG elections and paid the price. Poor selection of candidates was a major cause, ”Khan said on Twitter. “From now on, I will personally oversee PTI’s LG electoral strategy in the 2nd phase of LG KP elections and LG elections through Pak. InchaAllah PTI will come out stronger.
PTI’s Bangash told Arab News on Monday that his party would call for a recount of the overall votes as well as those rejected due to irregularities.
“We are optimistic that we will get the win because we are aiming for a review of 16,000 rejected votes and a recount of the overall votes cast in favor of myself and my rival,” Bangash said.
Jalil Jan, KP spokesperson for JUI-F, praised the KP people for their confidence in the party, saying the results “clearly show that people are fed up with the way the PTI is running the province” .
Dawn reported that PTI leaders attributed the party’s performance to rising inflation in the country.
“Inflation has increased, which in turn has affected the population,” KP Labor and Human Rights Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said, quoted by the media outlet.
KP Assembly Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, however, accused PTI lawmakers of being “disloyal” to the party and blamed them for the defeat in the polls.
Jan’s brother Ehtesham Khan ran for President Tehsil Mathra and finished third, while JUI-F’s Fareed Ullah won the constituency.
So far, unofficial results show JUI-F in the lead and PTI in second place.
Sohail Ahmad, spokesman for Pakistan’s Provincial Election Commission, said the body would announce the official poll results on December 25.
According to a statement issued by the deputy commissioner of Peshawar, the results of all the polling stations of the Peshawar Tehsil Council have been received, but the official results had to be withheld as the voting process was suspended at six polling stations for security reasons.
According to unofficial results, Ali of JUI-F received 62,388 votes, Bangash of the ruling PTI received 50,659 votes while Arbab Zarak Khan of the Pakistan People’s Party received 45,958 votes.
Ali had thus won the seat of mayor of Peshawar by a margin of around 11,500 votes.
On Sunday, elections were held in Charsadda, Nowshera and Mardan in Peshawar as well as in KP, Mohmand Agency, Swabi, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank, Haripur, Buner, Bajaur and Dera Ismail Khan.
with over 35,700 candidates vying for tehsil council, village council and neighborhood councils.
About 3,900 women candidates were in the running, including federally administered tribal areas.
Strict security arrangements were in place as more than 12.6 million voters turned out to vote in the 17 districts. Nearly 80,000 security forces were deployed in the areas where the polls took place.
However, reports of election-related violence and armed attacks left five people dead and several injured, police and residents said.
On Saturday, a day before the elections, mayoral candidate Umar Khitab was gunned down outside his home in Dera Ismail Khan, district police officer Najamul Hasnain told media.
In addition, the voting process had to be suspended at several polling stations in Bannu and Dara Adam Khel, a town in the KP tribal district, due to an attack on Federal Science Minister Shibli Faraz in Kohat. The minister comes out unscathed.
A roadside bomb also hit the vehicle of an Awami National Party leader in the Bajaur tribal district on polling day, killing two and injuring three.
A polling station and ballot boxes were also set on fire in Darra Adam Khel.