UPPER DIR - Pakistan People’s Party candidate, Sanaullah, won the by-election for provincial assembly seat PK-93, Wari, Upper Dir-III according to unofficial and unconfirmed results.

PPP had formed an alliance with the Awami National Party (ANP) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), while the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) had announced support for the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) candidate.

According to unofficial results from the constituency’s 120 polling stations, PPP’s Sanaullah managed to secure 21,850, while JI’s Azam Khan bagged 16,120 votes. Voter turnout was approximately 34 per cent.

The seat had fallen vacant after disqualification of JI MPA Malik Behram Khan in a fake degree case. PML-N, ANP and JUI-F had withdrawn their candidates in favour of PPP's candidate Sanaullah.

The PK-93 seat has always been the stronghold of JI as its candidates had always won elections here, but political observers expected a tough competition this time around.

The JI campaign was badly affected when the election commission recently imposed bans on provincial ministers, MPAs and MNAs to run campaigns for any of the candidates, while there were also reports of some PTI officials supporting the PPP due to internal rifts.

Meanwhile, women in Upper Dir took a giant leap to reclaim their right to vote as they queued up outside polling stations in PK-93 (Upper Dir III) — the first time women in the district were allowed to vote in almost half a century. The last time women in Upper Dir exercised their right to vote was during 1970’s election after which they were barred from voting and a ban was imposed in the area.

In the constituency of PK-93, total number of registered voters is 148,076 out of which 57,708 are females while 90,308 are male voters. Out of 120 polling stations including 14 for females in the constituency, 90 had been declared sensitive while 30 were marked highly sensitive. In order to avoid any untoward incident, 7,000 police personnel have been deployed at the polling stations whereas army is also on standby.

Analysts have reason to believe mainstream parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan People’s Party, who were earlier accused of not letting women vote, have actively campaigned this time around to encourage Upper Dir’s women to exercise their constitutional right – an activity never witnessed before in the twin districts.

The seat fell vacant after JI’s Malik Behram Khan was disqualified over a fake degree. According to a district administration official, the number of polling stations designated for women has been increased from six to 14. “Earlier there were 126 polling stations in the constituency. The total number has now jumped to 134.”