Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has won six out of eight National Assembly seats that he contested in bye-elections, AFP reported on Monday.
The bye-polls, held on Sunday, are being seen as a popularity test for the former cricket star who was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April.
However, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party faced an overall loss of seats as it held all the eight constituencies earlier. The Pakistan Peoples Party, a member of the ruling coalition, won the other two seats in Sunday’s elections that took place after all 131 legislators of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf resigned following Khan’s dismissal.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has called for bye-polls in eight constituencies so far, AFP reported. In Pakistan, there is no upper limit on the number of seats a candidate could contest in the National Assembly elections. However, it is not common for a candidate to contest as many seats as Khan did.
The former prime minister will have to give up all seats barring one and fresh elections will be held in the other constituencies. But, the results of Sunday bye-polls are being seen as a bellwether by political analysts for national elections that must be held by October next year.
Fawad Chaudhry, Khan’s former information minister and main spokesperson of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said the results showed that the voters have called for fresh elections.
After being removed from office, Khan has regularly held rallies drawing thousands from across the country. In his speeches, he has alleged that current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government came to power because of a United States-led conspiracy.
“Winning six out of eight seats in the face of a combined opposition is not something small,” Imtiaz Gul, an analyst from the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, told AFP on Monday after the results. “It underlines a reality which may be bitter for the entire ruling alliance... Imran Khan’s narrative is still galvanising many people across the country.”