JHANG - Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ)-backed independent-candidate, Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, routed PML-N candidate Azad Nasir Ansari in the PP-78 by-election on Thursday.

According to unofficial results from all the 171 polling stations, Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi clinched 48,562 votes against Azad Nasir’s 35,489 votes. PPP candidate Sarfraz Rabbani could get only 805 votes. The polling started at around 8:30am and continued till 5pm without any break. The district police had declared all 171 polling stations of the constituency sensitive of which 17 had been marked as highly sensitive.

Although 25 candidates were in the run for PP-78, a neck-and-neck contest was expected between Ahmad Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ) and PML-N’s Haji Azad Nasir Ansari. However, the ASWJ chief withdrew from the PP-78 by-election, paving the way for the victory of Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi, an independent candidate.

There was also a transgender candidate, Madam Boota, in the run for the by-election, who also enjoyed good reputation among locals. There were 206,562 registered voters in the constituency – 108,627 male and 97,935 female.

The Punjab Assembly’s constituency had fallen vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified PML-N’s Rashida Yaqoob for concealing assets.

She had been elected in the 2013 general elections and runner-up Ludhianvi had challenged her election.

Initially, both Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and disqualified PML-N candidate Rashida Yaqoob had filed their nomination papers, but the Lahore High Court barred Ludhianvi from contesting the by-election.

Later, the LHC allowed the ASWJ chief to contest the by-poll.

On the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the district administration had declared Thursday as a public holiday throughout the district on account of the by-election in PP-78. Voting ended at 5pm and the overall polling process remained peaceful.

 

The candidates who were in the run were: PPP’s Sarfraz Rabbani, PTI’s Sheikh Arfa Majeed, PML’s Haji Azad Nasir Ansari, independent candidate Maulana Masroor Nawaz Jhangvi and independent candidate transgender Muhammad Arif alias Madam Boota.

A total of 171 presiding officers, 418 assistant presiding officers and polling officers were deployed to ensure smooth polling process in the by-election.

In addition, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has deployed 34 non-partisan observers for the by-election.