A previously unknown politician, Pir Iqbal Shah, defeated the son of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) central leader, Jahangir Khan Tareen, in his home constituency, NA-154, by a significant margin.
Shah won the seat by securing 113,542 votes in the by-election while PTI’s contender, Ali Tareen, could get only 85,933 votes. Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate, Ali Beg, received only 3,100 votes.
The electoral contest in NA-154 had become inevitable after the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Jahangir Tareen for being “dishonest” under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution in December 2017. Unlike his son, the elder Tareen had won the seat in an earlier by-election in 2015 by a huge margin of around 40,000 votes.
The PML-N believes this victory indicates that the party will also win the next elections.
“The voters in Lodhran have rejected the negative propaganda against our leader, Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif, and given a fresh mandate to him. If all goes well, the party will get a two-thirds majority in the July polls,” Salahuddin Butt, a PML-N worker, told Arab News.
But PTI chief Imran Khan believes that his party is learning from its mistakes. “For all Insafians who are feeling dejected after NA-154 result, every setback is an opportunity to analyze one’s mistakes, correct them & come back stronger. Successful people, institutions & nations learn from their failures,” he said in a tweet after his party’s defeat.
“The Lodhran victory is a big victory for the PML-N and a shock for the PTI. It will probably leave an impact on the forthcoming general elections,” said Salim Bokhari, a senior political analyst and editor of an English language national daily, The Nation.
However, other analysts took a different view of the situation.
“All the big families and political figures stood united against the Tareens due to their local politics. The situation will not remain the same in the general elections,” said Chaudhry Khadim, political affairs editor of an Urdu newspaper, Daily Pakistan.
Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, said in a tweet that her party’s victory in the NA-154 Lodhran by-poll had “set the tone for the 2018 general elections.”