ISLAMABAD: The improved poll performance by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the by-elections is "indicative of the times to come," party supremo and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday.
Speaking to the media outside an accountability court here where he is facing corruption charges, a beaming Sharif said that in the by-polls held on Sunday, "We received more votes than we expected."
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the single largest party in the July 25 general elections and formed a government with the support of smaller parties and independents.
In the by-elections, Sharif's PML-N managed not only to improve its position in the National Assembly by bagging four NA seats but also extended gains in the Punjab provincial assembly by securing five more seats.
Most of the seats where by-polls were held were been vacated by those elected from more than one seat in the July general elections, including Prime Minister Khan who won in all the five NA constituencies he had contested.
"For the first time in Pakistan's history, we are seeing such a result after a government has been in power for 50 to 60 days," Sharif, 68, who is facing three corruption cases, said.
Stating that despite the current situation, people came out in droves to vote for the PML-N, the three-time former premier said.
"(Former prime minister) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi emerged victorious in the by-election and we even nearly won from the Rawalpindi constituency. The other seats were not ours and we still defeated PTI," he said.
"These results send out a message and are indicative of the times to come," he cautioned Prime Minister Khan.
He also talked about his younger brother and president of the PML-N party Shehbaz Sharif, who was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on October 5 in a Rs 1,400 crore housing scam case.
Shahbaz, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and former Punjab Chief Minister, was accused by the country's anti-graft body of corruption in the Ashiana Housing case.
Asserting that everyone should pray for the well-being of the country, Nawaz Sharif said, "As prime minister and Punjab chief minister, Shehbaz Sharif and I fulfilled our responsibilities with honesty and this can be cross-checked."
"During our time things were not this expensive and people were happy," he claimed.
Basic items were affordable and the poor were satisfied, he said. "It is owing to the prayers of these satisfied citizens that the PML-N is emerging victorious," he contended.
"All of a sudden everything changed. I was imprisoned and cases are being made against me while Shehbaz has been imprisoned and remanded in the National Accountability Bureau's custody."
"The world knows how cases are being made against Shehbaz and me and everyone has verified this," he said.
"Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and I are facing a treason case, but God willing these times will change," he said.
Polling for the by-election was held in 35 constituencies on Sunday, with 11 seats each of the National and Punjab assemblies, nine of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and two each of the Sindh and Balochistan up for grabs.
Results from the 11 NA constituencies saw Prime Minister Khan's PTI and the PML-N win four seats apiece.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) retained the two seats that were vacated by Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, while the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) won the NA-35 constituency in Bannu.
The PTI was unable to retain the two seats won by Prime Minister Khan in the general election.