Islamabad Likely to have PML-N's Mayor
ISLAMABAD: Though the polling process for the first-ever citywide local government elections in Islamabad ended on Monday evening, the battle to become mayor is just beginning.
According to unofficial results, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has bagged 21 out of the total 50 Metropolitan Corporation seats. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which won in most urban localities, follows closely with 16 seats. At least 26 votes would be needed for either party’s candidate to become mayor.
Independents, as per unofficial results, have bagged 13 seats and could theoretically still shift the balance either way.
While the PTI has questioned transparency and delays in issuance of results in seven union councils (UCs), both parties are hoping the official results — due on Thursday — would be in their favour.
Mayor from ruling party
Unofficial results endorse the belief that the federal capital’s first elected mayor will be from the PML-N.
Initial results show the ruling party won 21 constituencies: UCs 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 18, 19, 22, 24, 26, 32, 33, 34, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 49. The party had not awarded a ticket to any of the candidates in UC-48-Sarai Kharbooza due to disputes between party workers. The winning candidate from the UC, Malik Imtiaz, is already affiliated with PML-N and is likely to formally join the party.
In UC-30, the PML-N candidate, former senator Zafar Ali Shah, was defeated by independent candidate, Chaudhry Naeem Gujjar, who is a PML-N worker but was denied a party ticket. Naeem was backed by PML-N leader Ashraf Gujjar and many PML-N supporters voted for him rather than Shah.
There are two other constituencies where disgruntled party candidates contesting as independents won. Both were backed by Ashraf Gujjar and PML-N Islamabad Secretary General Shujaur Rehman. “If the PML-N leadership succeeds in wooing back disgruntled members, it will be in a better position and will only require the support of two or three independents,” commented a senior party leader.
Unofficial results show PTI winning 16 UCs — 1, 7, 8, 15, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, and 50.
Asad Umar, a PTI MNA from Islamabad, said in a press conference that his party had reservations over the delay in the release of results by returning officers at seven union councils including 22, 30, 34, 39, and 42. He also hinted at initiating legal proceedings over the issue.
PTI would need to woo almost all of the independents if its candidate wants to stand a chance of being elected mayor. The party should be able to secure at least one of the three slots for deputy mayors.
In the second phase of the local government elections, the chairpersons of all 50 UCs will form an electoral college to elect another 16 members (nine women, one technocrat, two non-Muslims, two youth members, and two ‘worker’ members] for the MC.
In the third phase, the 66-member MC will elect a mayor and three deputy mayors. The process will conclude with the election of a mayor.
The ICT Local Government Act provides that the “first meeting of the local government shall be held not later than 30 days from the day on which the names of its members are notified.”
More rigging allegations
Meanwhile, the Awami Workers Party (AWP) Tuesday claimed elections were rigged systematically by influential candidates. “We have proof of irregularities committed at UC 28 and UC 44.
AWP Islamabad Information Secretary Ammar Rashid said the polling scheme was changed at the eleventh hour in UC-44, while a whole booklet of ballots was found by AWP workers at one of the polling stations in UC-28.
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