Islamabad: The more the leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) dismiss the impression that in the October 14 by-polls an overwhelming number of voters went against them, the stronger it becomes.
In less than 60 days, the party’s popularity has plunged along with the stock market index and the public’s expectations.
The major setback for the PTI-run governments at the Centre, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is the loss of two seats its Chairman and Prime Minister of the country Imran Khan had won in the July 25 elections in the National Assembly (one in Lahore and one in Bannu), two seats in the Punjab Assembly (Jhelum and DG Khan), one in National Assembly (Attock) and two in Swat.
PTI’s main rivals, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Awami National Party (ANP) have grabbed these seats.
The results of the by-elections are shocking for the PTI and insiders have told Gulf News that the Prime Minister is so upset with the results that he has summoned a meeting on Tuesday to introspect the reasons for the party’s defeat in Sunday’s by-polls.
“The Prime Minister is going to take the local party leaders and the losing candidates to task for their poor performance,” sources said, adding that a rift inside the party at the local level over the division of tickets has also led to the party’s defeat.
Giving an example of Lahore’s NA-131, sources in PTI said there were more than five women MNAs of PTI from that constituency, However, they were not happy with the party high command’s decision of awarding a ticket to a former PML-N and PML-Q leader Humayun Akhtar Khan and as a result did not show interest in running his campaign.
“As a result of their internal conflicts, now the PTI government will have to suffer the lethal criticism of Khwaja Saad Rafique who won from that constituency with a margin of 10,000 votes,” said a PTI central leader who requested not to be named.
Meanwhile, during a survey, the public also expressed their disappointment with the performance of the PTI government during its first 60 days.
Amir Khan Alvi, a local trader in Islamabad’s Karachi Company market, was of the opinion that the government’s decision to go to the International Monetary Fund for the biggest loan in the history of the country has disappointed the masses and the opposition parties led by PML-N are taking maximum advantage of that.
Naseem Akhtar, a teacher, said she was a vocal supporter of the PTI in the July 25 elections but after the government came to power and raised the prices of gas and other utilities, she changed her mind and in the by-polls voted for the PML-N candidate from NA-53, Islamabad.
Mian Aslam, a representative of the traders’ community and a former Member Parliament, told Gulf News that never in the history of the country had the US dollar gone up to the level it is today and despite the government’s announcement it was opting for the IMF package, there is no let-up in Pakistani Rupee’s free fall.
These are bad signs for the country’s economy and have left deep impact on voters’ psyche thus either they remained at home or voted against PTI on the by-election day, he said.