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Imran blames ‘mistakes’ for election defeat

"From now on I will personally be overseeing PTI's election strategy ... across Pakistan. PTI will come out stronger."

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Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said “mistakes” regarding the selection of candidates led to the shock defeat of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, with a pro-Taliban party making major gains.

Khan tweeted: “PTI made mistakes in 1st phase (of the local government elections) and paid the price. Wrong candidate selection was a major cause.

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“From now on I will personally be overseeing PTI’s election strategy … across Pakistan. PTI will come out stronger.”

The local government elections in Khyber Pakhtun­khwa province, bordering Afghanistan, were held on December 19 across 17 districts after a gap of six years.

The opposition parties, especially the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), have taken the lead leaving PTI behind, Geo TV reported. PTI could win only one out of six tehsils.

The JUI-F took a definitive lead in the election for the post of Mayor of Peshawar. According to ARY News, JUI-F’s Haji Zubair bagged 62,388 votes against 50,659 votes of PTI’s Rizwan Bangash.

Pakistani analysts said the stunning performance of the JUI (Fazl) at the cost of both its allies and rivals is likely to reshape the province’s political landscape.

In the last two general elections, the ruling PTI emerged as the JUI-F nemesis.

According to unofficial results, JUI-F candidates won 10 seats of tehsil Chairman/Mayor out of 24 tehsils. Elections were held on 63 tehsils. On the other hand, a large number of party candidates have stood runners up.

In the provincial capital, the JUI-F made inroads eclipsing traditional political forces like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP).

Dawn newspaper quoted Aurangzeb Khan, a Peshawar-based analyst, as saying that regional geopolitical shifts brought the religion to the fore in the region.

“JUI-F’s victory happens at a time when the larger regional shifts marked by the rise of the (Afghan) Taliban and Islamic State in Afghanistan is impacting Pakistan’s strategic outlook and the space for religious elements in its polity and politics,” he said.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said PTI was set to face bad times.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz tweeted: “After being shamed, slandered and receiving the curse of millions and pushing a nation of 220 million into a mire of inflation, lawlessness and incompetence, ‘tabdeeli’ (change) is on its way out.”

PML-N’s Azma Bokhari said more thrashing was in store for PTI in Punjab.

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