ISLAMABAD - Besides severe pre-polling odds, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had to face presence of eleven politico religious parties in election arena, which also factored in denting its vote bank, leading to reduction of its national and provincial assembly seats.

Except the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), eleven politico religious parties which contested the 2018 general elections had secured about 2.9 million votes in total which previously PML-N used to get basically on ideological affinity.

Though MMA has secured 2.5 million votes and bagged 12 National Assembly seats, none of the eleven religious parties could bag a National Assembly seat as only Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) could win two provincial assembly seats in the Sindh Assembly.

A cursory analysis of the pre-poll election campaign suggests that by and large all the eleven parties with Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) ostensibly played a leading role against the PML-N highlighting the issue of an amendment in the law regarding finality of the Prophethood.

Political analysts believed this slogan had helped the eleven religious parties in securing a total of 2.9 million votes in the general elections.           

According to data uploaded by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the highest number of votes polled in favour of these parties was in Punjab followed by Sindh province.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Nazryati-Pakistan managed to bag 34,170 votes as compared to 1,030,98 votes in 2013. Another religious party that did not leave an impact on the electoral battleground was Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (Noorani) that received 22,918 votes in contrast to 67,966 votes in 2013.

The Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen that bagged 41,520 votes last time managed to only get 19,597 votes this time. The Sunni Ittehad Council also witnessed a significant drop in its popularity as it received 5,939 votes only as compared to 37,732 votes in 2013.

On the other hand, the new splinter groups have remarkably marked their presence as compared to the old parties.

The newly formed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) led by clerics of the Barelvi sect emerged as the top fifth party which received 2,234,138 votes for the National Assembly, outranking major parties like the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Awami National Party among others.

Although the TLP did not secure a seat in the lower house of parliament, its 178 NA and over 500 provincial assembly candidates contesting elections across the country contributed significantly to its vote bank.

The party bagged the most votes in Punjab (1,887,419) where it was the only party that had fielded over 100 candidates from the 117 constituencies of the province.

The TLP also managed to govern Punjab’s religious poll bank as its votes make up 69 per cent of the total votes given to religious parties (2,704,856) in the region.

In Sindh, the party candidates gave a tough time to prominent leaders like Dr Farooq Sattar of MQM-P and PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in the election.

In NA-246 (Karachi South-1), TLP’s candidate Ahmed secured over 3,000 more votes than the PPP chairman whereas in NA-247 (Karachi South-2), the party’s candidate secured second position and beat Dr Sattar by a margin of over 500 votes.

The TLP bagged two seats in the provincial assembly one from Lyari’s PS-107 and the other from PS-115 (Baldia Town).

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik (Islam), the political wing of TLP’s Jalali group also influenced religious vote bank as it managed to secure over 55,000 votes for the National Assembly.

Besides the TLP, Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) allegedly led by the Hafiz Saeed and was introduced after the ECP denied registration of Milli Muslim League has also secured 171,356 votes.

Pakistan Rah-i-Haq Party which was used as political face by the candidates of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) has secured 55,222 votes.