LAHORE/FAISALABAD/PESHAWAR/QUETTA/KARACHI - The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) grabbed the lion’s share of seats in the by-elections held in 41 constituencies generally in a peaceful and transparent manner, but marked with some big upsets.
Unluckily for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party lost two of its vital seats of National Assembly that were vacated by none other than the mighty party chief Imran Khan. The spree of upsets did not spare the N-League either that lost three seats in the Punjab Assembly considered as the ruling party’s home ground. Two of these seats were vacated by the PML-N’s bigwigs – Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa.
The overall, unofficial NA results suggest that PML-N won five seats, Pakistan People’s Party-Parliamentarians won two seats, PTI three and Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) each won a seat.
By-polls on Punjab Assembly seats were a PML-N show where it got 12 of total 15 seats. The PPP and the PTI were both leading on two seats each.
In Sindh Assembly, the MQM got three seats while PPP won one seat.
In the KPK, ANP and JUI-F got one seat each while two independent candidates won a seat each. The results for KPK Assembly are a blow to the PTI which could not win a single seat in the province that it rules by virtue of the general elections results and its alliance with the JI (for a coalition government).
Similarly, on Balochistan Assembly’s three seats, the PML-N was in the lead on two while an independent candidate was leading on one.
Taking exception to the verified reports of intimidating the women not to cast votes in two NA constituencies, the Peshawar High Court ordered re-polling at 18 polling stations of the said constituencies. The two constituencies are NA-5 Nowshera and NA-27 Lakki Marwat.
Allegedly, the workers of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) stopped the women from casting votes in a bid to restrict the vote bank of their rivals who were reportedly in winning positions. Sources said ECP officials see the involvement of JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman in the entire episode. Following the PHC decision, the ECP said it would conduct re-polling in the coming days.
Luckily for the PTI, it managed to secure one of the most-hyped seats and the only one in the Capital where by-elections were held. In NA-48, PTI’s ‘economic brain’ Asad Umar outclassed the PML-N’s ‘underdog’ Chaudhry Aslam Gujjar by bagging over 48000 votes.
Apart from individual instances in certain constituencies involving aerial firing, the by-polls were held in an apparently peaceful manner with the army troops deployed at 4,218 polling stations of which 1,532 were marked as highly sensitive and 2,686 sensitive.
“This is a historical moment in my life,” commented Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmad Khan on the conduct of the by-elections, in a conversation with this correspondent.
Later, in a press briefing, the secretary announced the first official by-polls result coming from the Punjab Assembly’s constituency PP-123 Sialkot where the PML-N’s Khawaja Mansha Butt defeated the PTI’s Daud Parvez by securing nearly 22,000 votes. The voters’ turnout in this constituency was recorded at 18.33 percent.
As many as 500 candidates were in the run for 15 national and 26 seats of provincial assemblies.
According to unofficial results, PML-N was leading on 5 of the 16 National Assembly seats, PPP on two seats, PTI on three seats, ANP on one seat and PkMAP one seat. Results of some constituencies were awaited by the time of going to press.
Polling for the 41 National and provincial assembly seats in the four provinces and Islamabad in the by-election concluded at 5:00pm. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not extend time for voting, saying the commission did not receive any appeal from any of the provinces for extending the time.
Polling at the two polling stations of National Assembly constituency NA-262 Qila Abdullah began after a delay of three hours as two bombs were discovered outside polling stations.
In Lahore, a female presiding officer gave birth to a baby after being shifted from her duty place to a medical facility.
According to reports, the pregnant woman was discharging duty in Punjab Assembly constituency 161 in Chamropur near Raiwind when her condition deteriorated.
She was taken to a nearby hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy.
Also, unknown armed men gunned down a former counselor, also a candidate in the by-elections prior the polling time in Lahore.
According to police, the ex-counselor named Maqbool, who had also campaigned for the by-elections, was gunned down by unknown assailants in Shahdara area of Lahore.
Separately, an attempt of terrorism in Balochistan on the day of by-election was foiled when security forces recovered a bomb near a polling station in Chaman town bordering Afghanistan.
According to sources, security forces foiled a major terror bid by recovering a bomb near a polling station. They said the security forces searched a polling station set up in a high school in NA-262 constituency of Chaman and recovered explosive material planted along the school’s wall.
Voting in the area was delayed as bomb disposal squad (BDS) was called to defuse the bomb. The BDS reached the spot and defused the bomb.
Acting Chief Election Commissioner Tassudduq Hussain Jilani took notice of reports that media teams were not being allowed to report the polling process in the by-polls at different polling stations.
The CEC also visited different polling stations to examine the polling at different polling stations.
At least 40 workers of Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PML-F) were arrested on arms displaying charges in NA-235.
Workers of PML-F candidate Khuda Bakhash were arrested outside the polling station of Jam Nawaz Ali, NA 235 Sanghar, when they reached the polling station along with arms.
PML-N candidate Sardar Muhammad Khwaja clinched NA-68 Sargodha seat after defeating PTI’s Malik Nazir Ahmed.
On NA-71 Mianwali-I, PML-N candidate Obaidullah Shadikhel won defeating PTI’s Malik Waheed Khan.
On NA-103 Hafizabad-II, PML-N candidate Shahid Hussain Bhatti defeated PTI’s Shaukat Ali Bhatti. NA-129 Lahore seat was won by PML-N candidate Shazia Mubashar who defeated PTI’s Muhammad Mansha Sindhu.
PTI candidate Sardar Ahmed Ali Dareshak won the by-elections from PP-243. According to initial results, PML-N’s Sardar Hisamuddin Khosa remained second in the elections.
Similarly in Faisalabad, by-elections were conducted in Punjab assembly constituency PP-51 and National Assembly constituency NA-83. PML-N candidate for NA-83 Mian Abdul Manan bagged the slot as per unofficial results while PML-N’s Azad Ali Tabassum won PP-51 Chak Jhumra seat. PPP candidate Mushtaq Ali Cheema, PTI candidate Faiz Ullah Kamoka, Manzoor Gori of MQM, Mian Nadeem Saleemi of APML and independent candidate Ashraf Mughal were also contesting the by-poll. In PP-51, PPP’s Malik Muhammad Ali, PTI’s Ajmal Cheema, Zafar Iqbal Zafar of MQM, Mian Sajjad Ahmad of APML and Ch Imtiaz Ahmad Lara an independent candidate were also in the run.
ANP candidate Ahmed Khan Bahadur won PK-23 Mardan-1 while PTI candidate Syed Umar Farooq remained second.
PML-N candidate Muhammad Khan Lehri won PB-29 Naseerabad-2 defeating independent candidate Muhammad Amin Imrani.
PPP candidate Makhdoom Syed Ali Akbar Mehmood clinched victory at PP-292 Rahim Yar Khan while PML-N candidate Maulvi Muhammad Tariq Chohan remained second.
PML-N candidate Rana Babar stood winner at PP-217 Khanewal-5 while PTI candidate Maqsood Alam remained second.
PP-118 Mandi Bahauddin seat was won by PML-N candidate Akhtar Abbas while PTI’s Liaqat Ali Ranjha remained second.
PML-N candidate Khwaja Muhammad Mansha defeated PTI’s Muhammad Dawood Khan on PPP-123 Sialkot-III seat.
PML-N’s Khwaja Salman Rafique defeated PTI candidate Waqar Ahmed on PP-142 Lahore-VI.