THE bye-elections for a National Assembly seat (Lahore NA-123) and two for Punjab Assembly seats (Jhang PP-82 and Bahawalnagar PP-284) held on Wednesday were peaceful. However, there was an incident of firing in the Balochistan constituency (Jaffarabad PB-25), where 21 persons were injured. According to unofficial results, the PML-N candidates, Pervaiz Malik and Azam Chaela, from NA-123 and PP-82 respectively defeated their rivals, while PML-Zia candidate from PP-284, Shahid Anjum, and PPP candidate from PB-25, Sardar Nasir Jamali, also easily romped home. The results of NA-123 have to be withheld till the court, where a case was filed a day before the polls took place, has decided on it. Although the winning candidates at all the four constituencies left their competitors far behind in the count, prompting the feeling that the elections would have been more or less fair, the losing sides did not spare the opportunity to allege that they were marred by massive rigging, which, they say, deprived them of any possibility of victory. One would not, however, discount the chances, to which they alluded, that the official machinery was blatantly used by the candidates of ruling parties because that, unfortunately, is the norm in our country. Considering the common failure to attract voters by parties like, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami, which was also backed by PML-Q, one wonders why these parties do not think in terms of forming an alliance either with each other or with some other parties, to win seats. The turnout was not large, particularly at NA-123 where just about 20 percent of voters came to the polling stations, despite the active canvassing done by provincial ministers and activists of parties participating in the polls. Security concerns might have been one of the reasons for this lacklustre show, especially as the memory of the recent blast in Lahores Model Town was still fresh in the public mind. Observers have pointed out that to give a sense of security to the voters, the police outnumbered the people. However, another equally compelling reason for the peoples indifference was the elected leaders utter disregard of their problems, whether they stemmed from the relentless inflationary pressure or the ubiquitous threat to their lives and properties. Even those who, for one reason or the other, did come out to vote must have heard the candidates or their backers promises to solve their problems with grave doubt, if not derision. It is time our leadership took a cue from the low turn-out and altered their priorities to the benefit of the common man.