Claim: PTI-backed independent winning candidates have joined the PML-N. Barrister Aqeel Malik is the 11th such candidate.

Fact: Out of the nine independent candidates who joined the PML-N, only one of them was a PTI-backed independent candidate, Waseem Qadir from NA-121. Apart from him, the other independent candidates were already affiliated with PML-N or IPP and were never backed by PTI. Malik was backed by PML-N, and he is not the 11th candidate to join the PML-N.

On 9 February 2024, journalist Kamran Shahid shared a post on X claiming that several PTI-backed independent candidates are to join PML-N, helping the party “claim the success”. 

On the same day, another X account shared a post with the caption, “This is the 11th independent to join PML-N. Need 20 more of these and PML-N will not need a coalition partner in [the] centre.” 

The video in the aforementioned post was shared with the caption announcing that Barrister Aqeel Malik — who was independently contesting from NA-54 — beat Chaudhry Nisar and Ghulam Sarwar, and presented his seat as a gift to Nawaz Sharif. In his video message, he said that he is a soldier of Mian Nawaz Sharif and this seat is a gift to him. 

Who are the independent candidates? 

On 13 January 2024, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa accepted the ECP’s decision to deprive Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of its popular election symbol, a cricket bat. In response, several PTI-backed candidates contested the election as independent candidates, aiming to either join a party or back another party as a political bloc to form the government, in the event that this allows them to acquire a simple majority in the National Assembly. It was a political strategy developed to accommodate the possibility of PTI-backed independent candidates taking the lead, which they did, according to this article by Al Jazeera and this report by Reuters.

According to the ECP’s election results portal, independent candidates, most of whom are backed by the PTI, have won 100 seats. However, there are some independent candidates who are not PTI-backed. According to the research presented below, several PTI-backed independent candidates have not joined the PML-N. 

Fact or Fiction?

Only one PTI-backed independent candidate, Waseem Qadir from NA-121, has joined the PML-N. He won with 78,703 votes with the help of PTI supporters, as an independent candidate, as shown in the Form 47 uploaded by the ECP here.

However, on 11 February 2024, he defected to PML-N and recorded a video message, declaring his allegiance to PML-N, while standing next to Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

On 12 February 2024, published an article with the headline, “Half dozen independents join PML-N.” And The Friday Times, published an article on 19 February 2024, with the headline “Seven Independent MNAs, 21 Independent MPAs Join PML-N”

Both of these articles state the following National Assembly independent candidates joined PML-N:

  1. Muhammad Idrees from NA-1 
  2. Rasheed Akbar Niwani from NA-92
  3. Raza Hayat Harraj from NA-144 
  4. Raja Khurram Nawaz from NA-48
  5. Pir Zahoor Hussain Qureshi from NA-146
  6. Sardar Shamsher Mazari from NA-189
  7.  Mian Khan Bugti from NA-253
  8. Aqeel Malik from NA-54
  9. Waseem Qadir from NA-121

Soch Fact Check investigated these nine independent candidates to determine if they were backed by the PTI or PML-N.  

  1. Muhammad Idrees from NA-1 

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, which is the website run by PTI’s media team to highlight their candidates in every constituency, their candidate for NA-1 Kohistan was Abdul Latif, not Muhammad Idrees. 

  1. Rasheed Akbar Niwani from NA-92 

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, PTI’s candidate for NA-92 Bhakkar was Zaheer Abbas Naqvi, not Rasheed Akbar Niwani. 

  1. Raza Hayat Harraj from NA-144

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, PTI’s candidate for NA-144 was Muhammad Ahsan, not Raza Hayat Harraj. 

  1. Raja Khurram Nawaz from NA-48

An article published by SAMAA News on 7 February 2024, quotes Raja Khurram Nawaz from NA-48 claiming that he is backing PML-N’s candidate, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry from NA-47. From this article, published on 4 February 2024, it is clear that the PML-N did not field a candidate in this constituency in collaboration with the Istehkam e Pakistan Party (IPP), which backed Raja Khurram Nawaz’s candidacy. This proves that he is not a PTI-backed candidate defecting to PML-N post-election.

  1. Pir Zahoor Hussain Qureshi from NA-146

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, PTI’s candidate for NA-146 was Muhammad Imran Shah, not Pir Zahoor Hussain Qureshi.

  1. Sardar Shamsher Mazari from NA-189

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, the PTI-backed candidate for NA-189 (Rajanpur-III) was Zahid Mehmood Mazari, not Sardar Shamsher Mazari. 

  1. Mian Khan Bugti from NA-253

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, their candidate for NA-253 (Ziarat) was Saddam Tareen and not Barrister Mian Khan Bugti.

  1. Aqeel Malik from NA-54

According to and PTI’s GitHub app, which allows voters to access a list of PTI-backed candidates, their candidate for NA-54 was Azra Masood whose electoral symbol was a ‘kettle’.

The constituency NA-54 is Rawalpindi III, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s official list of constituencies. According to the Form 47 uploaded by the ECP, the independent candidate, Aqeel Malik won the National Assembly seat for this constituency with 85,912 votes. 

According to this article published on 8 February 2024 by The News, while the voting process was ongoing, Barrister Aqeel Malik was “vying for securing ticket of PML-N” but he “preferred to contest as independent candidate with the promise to return the seat to his party after winning the elections.” This means that Malik had publicly declared allegiance to the PML-N even before the election.

Soch Fact Check also reviewed posts on Malik’s X account shared in the days leading up to 8 February and found several of them declaring his endorsement of the PML-N. On 6 February 2024, he shared this video of a PML-N rally where he can be seen campaigning with other leaders with a song in the background in Punjabi language, praising his candidature. The rally is surrounded by posters and flags representing other PML-N candidates, together with Barrister Malik. His Twitter bio also says “ Former Youth President PMLN Rwp District.”

On 7 February 2024, he shared another video from a PML-N rally, highlighting his participation with another Punjabi political song in his praise. In this video, published on the same day, he can be seen addressing the public during a campaign and asking them to stamp the grandfather clock symbol (his own symbol) for the National Assembly vote, and the symbol of the tiger (PML-N) for the Provincial Assembly vote. This also shows that he had been campaigning in favour of the PML-N since before the elections. The implication that he joined the PML-N after winning is misleading since it may suggest that he was once a PTI-backed independent candidate who has now joined the PML-N after winning votes from PTI’s supporters.

  1. Waseem Qadir from NA

Waseem Qadir initially joined the PTI in 2018. According to and PTI’s GitHub app, he contested the 2024 general election as a PTI-backed independent candidate. However, on 11 February 2024, he announced in a video statement that he has decided to join the PML-N, instead.

In addition, Soch Fact Check also spoke to Imran Ghazali, PTI’s media strategist, and Azhar Mashwani, the media coordinator; both of whom confirmed that except for Waseem Qadir, none of the independent candidates who joined the PML-N were backed by the party. 

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concludes that apart from Waseem Qadir, no other PTI-backed independent candidate has joined the PML-N. Independent candidates who have joined were either already backed by the PML-N or IPP, which was in alliance with the PML-N.


The post was viewed 157,300 times on X. We saw a similar post shared on Facebook, here.

Conclusion:  Several PTI-backed independent candidates have not joined the PML-N. Nine independent candidates have joined the PML-N, out of which only one of them, Waseem Qadir, was backed by the PTI. Other independent candidates who joined the PML-N were not backed by the PTI, neither did they defect to the PML-N after the election results. Most of them were already members of or were backed by the PML-N or the IPP, which was formed in alliance with the PML-N. 

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