PESHAWAR - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate Arbab Amir Ayub was a sure winner of NA-4 by-election as he had grabbed 44,064 votes, far more than his closest rivals, while the result of 10 polling stations was still awaited.

His biggest challengers – Nasir Musazi of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Khushdil Khudil Khan of Awami National Party – had secured only 24,032 and 23,462 votes respectively, as per the results of 259 polling stations.

The Peshawar seat of National Assembly had fallen vacant after the death of dissident PTI MNA Gulzar Khan on August 28. The contest was taken very seriously by all major players as it had great symbolic value.

The PTI needed the victory to show it still enjoys wide popularity in the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province it rules.

For ANP it was an opportunity to reclaim at least a part of its lost political territory, something essential for morale boost ahead of the general elections, due in nine months.

The PML-N, which rules at the Centre and the most populous Punjab but continues facing biggest political challenge from PTI, looked it as a chance to inflict a major political blow to the rival. The NA-4 (Peshawar) meant to PML-N much the same as the NA-120 (Lahore) to the PTI.

As the counting started Thursday evening, PTI led the race while ANP candidate emerged as the runners up. But the second position was later grabbed by PML-N’s Nasir, pushing Khushdil to the third spot.

However, the vote difference between them was slim – leaving the possibility for the ANP candidate to finish second in this bitterly fought electoral battle.

A for other candidates, Asad Gulzar of PPP had got 12,437 votes, as per the unofficial and incomplete tally. Dr Mohammad Shaifque Amini had pocked 9,324 votes, Wasil Farooqi of Jamaat-e-Islami 7,363, Alhaj Liaqat Ali Khan (independent) 3,664 votes, Mohammad Tanver (independent) 339, Maulana Waheed Alam (independent) 281, Doctor Mubashir Khan 179, Zia-ur-Rahman 187, Amanullah Khan Afridi 160, Samiullalh 160 and  Shaukat Khan Mohmand 31 votes.

Cheering workers, relatives and friends of the winning candidate Arbab Amir gathered outside his residence and hujra to celebrate the victory. The hugged each other and exchanged sweets.

The joyful youngsters also fired in the air to rejoice PTI’s victory. The jubilant workers also danced to drumbeat.

In a tragic accident, a man named Hayatullah, a resident of Urmar Payan area of Peshawar, was killed in aerial firing by overjoyed PTI workers .

Polling scene

Earlier during the day-long polling, great enthusiasm was witnessed among young voters, though the PTI voters and supporters were more active.

The activists of different parties were wearing caps and dresses of their respective party colours, while youngsters also chanted slogans in favour of their candidates.

The polling process started at 8am and the turnout was low at most of the polling stations in the morning but the polling gained momentum in the afternoon.

Several residents were found complaining at some polling satiations that their names were not available on the voter list, despite the fact that they had voted in 2013 general elections.

At some polling stations, voters of all ages had reached much before the polling time. A number of voters who were going to cast their votes for the first time in life told this scribe that they came in shape of groups to cast the vote, and said they were very excited about it.

Like the general elections, the women voters’ turnout was extremely low owing to restrivtive Pashtoon culture. Most of the women who did vote were brought out by the woman activists of the different political parties.

Thousand of voters of Masho Gagar Badhabera boycotted polling in protest against lack of development work in their union councils.

Code flouting

To thwart any untoward incident, 7,000 policemen backed by army personnel were deployed in NA-4.

The security arrangements and measures taken by the ECP were appreciated by and large but scuffles and exchange of hot words was seen at some places.

The code of conduct was flouted by almost all the parties as their activists were seen displaying weapons and using mobile phones inside polling station. Some people even made their videos while costing vote.

PPP’s Neghat Orakzi accompanied gun wielding guards to some polling stations despite police presence, while her rival Nasir Musazai was also seen with armed guards inside some polling stations.

PTI lawmakers Fazl Ilahi also openly used his mobile inside the polling station and make videos inside polling station.

A scuffle broke out between ANP and PML-N activists who threw punches at each other as the policemen looked on silently in Gulshan Rahman Colony.

PML-N leadership continued to lure voters through ‘developmental work’ even on polling day as workers of SNGPL were seen providing gas connections to the residents in some areas.