Nawaz Sharif's party clinches local election victory in Pakistan

It is being seen as a test of support for the Sharif dynasty ahead of the 2018 general election.

Now Reading:

Nawaz Sharif's party clinches local election victory in Pakistan

Text size Aa Aa

The wife of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has captured his parliamentary seat with a reduced majority in a by-election.

It is being seen as a test of support for the Sharif dynasty ahead of the 2018 general election.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam and her mother Kulsoom have reportedly won the seat for the PML-N Party.

Kulsoom did not campaign in person as she is receiving treatment for cancer in London.

Are the official results in yet?

No. They have yet to be announced. However, party officials who also tallied the numbers say Kulsoom scooped around 53.5% of the vote.

That would mean the party’s majority has reduced from 61% in the 2013 general election.

Allegations of intimidation

Maryam, who is seen by some as a future leader, spearheaded the PML-N campaign for her mother with fiery speeches denouncing the judiciary.

In an interview before the vote, she hinted at military involvement in her father’s ouster.

She said her mother Kulsoom won despite Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party workers being threatened and kidnapped.

Although she did not name anyone, PML-N sources said she was referring to alleged intimidation by parts of Pakistan’s powerful military.

The military could not be reached for comment.

The opposition

The main opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party made gains but alleged voter irregularities in the eastern city of Lahore, the electoral heartlands of the Sharif family since the 1980s.

PTI candidate Yasmin Rashid, a local gynaecologist, saw her share of the vote rise from about 35 percent to 41 percent but she afterwards said about 29,000 voters did not have fingerprint identification with the national database.

Opposition leader Imran Khan had sought to build on the success of his anti-graft crusade by making inroads into the Sharif’s power-base in Punjab.

Khan turned the by-election into a plebiscite about corruption and has accused the provincial Punjab government, which is run by Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz, of abusing state resources to help the PML-N campaign.

PML-N’s lead was reduced in part by the strong showing of Yaqoob Sheikh, who the United States in 2012 designated a terrorist.

What has happened to Nawaz Sharif?

He served two stints in power in the 1990s until he was deposed in a military coup in 1999.

He had strained ties with the military during his third stint in power that ended in his ouster in July 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him for failure to declare a monthly salary from a company owned by his son.

Sharif denies receiving the salary.

Tensions between civilian governments and the military have been a constant source of instability in Pakistan.

What they are saying

“This is not an ordinary victory,” Maryam Sharif said in a speech to PML-N supporters. “You have defeated not only people who were in the field but also those who are invisible.”