The by-elections have been most interesting and the results have revealed that the selection of the right candidate is a leading factor in the outcome. Despite the fact that Imran Khan (IK) himself led from the front a whirlwind campaign for his party’s candidates, particularly in the two constituencies that he had won so easily two months ago, his party lost both the seats. It was due to giving tickets to candidates, who could not measure up to what people of the respective areas wanted. The party definitely needs to learn from these setbacks and to review the basis on which tickets are awarded. It needs to see how it can heed and evaluate the opinions of those who have dissenting views.

During a visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa just a week before the by-elections and by mingling with the common citizens, it was easy to assess that Ghulam Ahmad Bilour had at least 50 percent chances of winning his seat back. From zero to 50 percent in two months is a lot of ground to cover. (And it is the same Bilour, mind you, who has nothing to show for delivery in the five years that he was minister.)

It was a common opinion in NA 1 that the Badshah opposing Bilour was not going to cut it - for whatever reasons. It added an ‘insult to injury’ feeling for the Pathans, who had placed so much faith in Imran that he had opted to release the NA 1 seat from Peshawar from among the three he had won in May.

We, in Islamabad, anyway, are happy that we have been able to successfully elect Asad Umar to Parliament. It sort of evens the setbacks that the PML-N candidate lost in the capital and the PTI candidate lost to ANP in NA 1 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

To come back to Asad Umar, if there is anything in numerology, then the numbers 48 definitely add up to good luck for him because not only was his constituency numbered 48, he won with 48,000 votes too. The pleasant thing in this by-election has been the graciousness and maturity displayed by most winning and losing candidates. There are just no cries of foul play and dhandli!

The overseeing of the elections was done ever so vigilantly by the faujis assigned the task. Although the turnout was poor, they monitored everything extremely well. A close relative of mine happened to be a polling agent at the polling station where I went to vote and I was stopped very forthrightly from doing hello or hi’s with her by the officer on duty. No engagement in conversation was allowed between the voters and the staff. I wish this could have been done during the general elections too. We would have been spared the aunties doing sssh-sssh caught on candid cameras (one particular one now permanently named ‘Dhandli Aunty’ on the social media) and so much else, including the effort of a massive 2,500-page white paper on the mess-ups during the general elections taken out by the PTI and the large number of petitions from all leading parties lying with the courts.

The pre-poll campaign took on unacceptable levels between Maulana Fazalur Rehman of JUI-F and Chairman PTI. It was so evident that the Maulana is really cheezed off at the intrusion of this relatively new party into what he considers his fiefdom of sorts. The accusations that he hurled at IK about being an agent of the Jewish lobby were obviously not bought by the voting public, which, in an exact opposite reaction, rejected most of Maulana’s candidates in the polls.

The clock would prefer not to be reversed in any province of the country vis-à-vis women’s right to vote and other matters, and it is the responsibility of those in positions of authority to ensure that the fundamental rights of all its citizens are protected, irrespective of gender, education, and social standing. The news that elections will be re-held in the constituencies where women were barred from voting by jirgas ignites the hope that some things will be dealt with as strictly as they deserve.

The one person with most credibility in the PPP is Raza Rabbani and he came out strongly with an attack on the Federal Interior Minister about the handling of the Sikander episode. He put 17 questions to him from the floor of the Senate. He was unwise to do so, given the PPP’s very recent performance in power and also because it gave the Minister of Interior a chance to pleasure-fully detail all that had happened in the last five years. None of it reflected well on Rabbani’s party, as you can imagine. Sometimes, silence is golden.

Postscript: In the light of security threats from multi-directions, the Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, has agreed to reconstitute the National Security Council. For decades now, the military had been promoting the idea. The concept originally jarred on Nawaz Sharif, who fired Ex-Army Chief Jehangir Karamat for daring to suggest it in his previous tenure. Perhaps, these are extraordinary times that have to be dealt with extraordinary measures, whatever. Or, perhaps, Mian Sahib has actually matured, regardless - the idea of joint military-civilian strategies to counter all threats sounds good to the discerning public. If I was to dedicate a song for this happening, I would select:

“Na na kertay pyar tum

hi sai ker baitey,

Kerna tha inkar magar iqrar tum

hi sai ker baitey!”

The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.