JUI-F emerges victorious in Pakistan’s KP province local bodies elections, outclasses ruling PTI party

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Women stand in a queue inside a polling station during a local body election in Peshawar on Sunday. AFP

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The Jamaat-e-Ulemae Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) stood first by winning the maximum number of seats of the chairmen of Tehsil councils and was trailed by the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) in local elections to 17 districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The Awami National Party (ANP) secured the third position in terms of the won seats, according to unofficial incomplete results of Sunday’s local council polls.

The JUI-F headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman is convincingly leading in 20 constituencies while the PTI has a clear edge in the race for 15 seats. The ANP clinched eight seats of the Tehsil chairmen. Besides, eleven independents also returned.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) fared poorly by getting only three seats. The position of the Jamaat-e-Islami was no different as it won 2 seats. The Tehrik-e-Islah Pakistan (TIP) won two seats.

The lead of the JUI-F over the PTI is being interpreted as an upset to the ruling party. The JUI-F has also secured the seat of the mayor of Peshawar city.

In Bannu, JUI-F candidate Irfanullah Durrani has extended a lead over a PTI candidate for the mayoral election. Durrani has so far polled 37,458 votes while the PTI candidate, Iqbal Khan Jadoon, has bagged 23,867 votes.

The PTI has tasted defeat in the Mardan, Kohat and Nowshera tehsils. For the Mardan city mayor election, the ANP’s Himayatullah Mayar has defeated the PTI’s candidate to emerge the victor, as per unofficial results.  The JUI-F’s Sher Zaman has also won the mayor city council seat in Kohat.

The PTI has managed to win four out of six tehsils of Buner district. A PTI candidate has the lead in Buner’s Khudu Khel district as well while the JUI-F has extended its lead in all three tehsils of Charsadda.

The TIP has taken the lead in District Khyber while the PTI’s Ataullah Khan has been elected chairman tehsil council in district Swabi. The JUI-F candidates are leading in district Mardan’s Takht Bhai Tehsil, Katlang Tehsil and Rustam Tehsil. The ANP has a lead over its rivals in Mardan’s Tehsil Garhi Kapura, on the other hand.

The opposition parties have a combined lead over the PTI in the first local elections in KP since the merger of tribal districts.

The first phase of local government polls, marked by scattered incidents of violence and attack that claimed five lives and damaged some polling stations, was held on Sunday in 64 tehsils of 17 districts after a gap of six years.

The polling process in three tehsils — located in Swabi, Bannu and Darra Adam Khel — was postponed on Sunday due to disturbances, including a suicide blast in Bajaur, abduction of polling staff in Bannu, a clash in Karak and a mob attack on Minister Shibli Faraz’s vehicle in Kohat.

In all, 12.668 million voters — seven million male and five and a half million female — were registered for the polls in the 17 KP districts namely Buner, Bajaur, Swabi, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kohat, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Tank, Haripur, Khyber, Mohmand, Mardan, Charsadda, Hangu and Lakki Marwat.

Of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas, local government elections were held for the first time in Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur districts.

In Khyber, the newly TIP was leading in Landi Kotal and Jamrud tehsil, while JUI-F was ahead of its rivals in tehsil Bara, according to unofficial results.

In Bajaur, JUI-F and JI were leading in Khar and Nawagai tehsils, respectively. In Mamund tehsil of Bajaur, a suicide attack on a vehicle taking voters to a polling station left two ANP workers dead and five others wounded, District Police Officer Abdul Samad Khan had said.

Also, the JUI-F was leading in Upper Mohmand and Khaweezai tehsils whereas ANP was in the lead in the lower Mohmand tehsil.

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