majority of seats won by the ruling PML-N in Pakistan in by-elections to the national and provincial assemblies

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got the lion’s share in the key by-elections by winning at least two National and 10 provincial Assembly seats, according to the unofficial results on April 22.

By-elections were held on Sunday on 21 National and provincial Assembly seats amidst tight security and suspension of cellular and internet services in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan to maintain law and order.

Two seats each of the National Assembly in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and one seat in Sindh, while twelve seats of the Punjab Assembly and two each of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies were up for grabs.

Major political parties including the PML-N, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) participated in the by-polls. However, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl of Maulana Fazlur Rehman boycotted the polls.

The Election Committee of Pakistan (ECP) has yet to issue the final results but private media channels shared the outcome based on the results of individual polling stations.

According to the Dunya News channel, the PML-N won two National Assembly seats while one each was grabbed by PPP, SIC and an independent candidate.

The preliminary result showed that PML-N won 10 out of 16 seats in the provincial assemblies, including nine from Punjab and one from Balochistan. One seat each was won by the PPP, the SIC, the Istehkam Pakistan Party, the Pakistan Muslim League, the Balochistan National Party and an independent candidate.

Cases of sporadic violence were reported and in one case, a supporter of the PML-N was killed after a clash with PTI voters in the Narowal area of Punjab. However, overall law and order was kept under control.

Earlier, the general elections were held across the country on February 8 to elect representatives for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies. But polls were cancelled for one National Assembly, two Punjab Assembly and one seat of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly respectively.

In Punjab, NA-132 (Kasur) and NA-119 (Lahore) were vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, while Shehbaz also gave up two of his provincial assembly seats in Lahore. He, however, retained his NA-123 seat in the National Assembly.

Apart from these leaders, candidates who had won more than one seat opted for a chosen seat after the elections, leaving the Election Commission of Pakistan to organise by-elections on 21 seats, including five National and 16 provincial assembly seats.

A day earlier, the federal government announced that cellular services would remain temporarily suspended in specific districts of Punjab and Balochistan during the by-elections. The request for the suspension was made by the ECP.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a statement, saying that the decision has been taken to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process.

Elaborate security measures have been taken by the authorities to control the law and order situation, with the deployment of regular army troops to maintain peace during the day-long process of by-elections.

The Punjab government had also asked the federal government to suspend mobile internet services in the province’s 13 districts and tehsils on April 21 to maintain law and order.

The move came despite severe criticism by media and political leaders of a similar step on February 8 when mobile services were suspended.