MULTAN/HYDERABAD: The by-elections have seen a fair share of controversy. On Saturday night, even celebrations were marred by a tragedy when supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi opened fire on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) workers celebrating the victory of Ali Musa Gilani from the NA 148 constituency, killing a party worker identified as Farhan Mughal. The Multan seat which Gilani was contesting was earlier vacated by Qureshi himself.
Eyewitnesses said Gharyala Union Council members, most of whom are members of the Khera clan, were also staunch Qureshi supporters. They opened fire on Mughal, who died on the spot. The celebrations had been taking place in the Bundhla Sunt area on the outskirts of Multan. Mughal, a PPP supporter for the last 20 years, was celebrating the victory of Gilani, who is the prime minister’s son. The Khera clan had also opposed Gilani’s candidacy during the by-election campaign.
Ali Moosa Gilani immediately suspended the victory celebrations and drove to the Union Council Gharyala area to offer condolences.
NA-140 results cancelled
Elsewhere in Punjab, another controversy erupted in Kasur when the District Returning Officer cancelled the by-polls results of the NA-140 constituency. The unofficial result has so far been changed thrice.
The dispute over the result was between two independent candidates – Dr Azaeemuddin Zahid Lakhvi and Malik Rashid. At 2.30am when the returning officer announced Rashid’s victory, Lakhvi supporters gathered in front the office of the returning officer and started to protest. Lakhvi immediately filed an application for a fourth recount.
According to ECP rules, the final official result will be declared after a consolidation process. The recounting is on and till the filing of this report, there are no indications as to who was likely to win.
Slapping MPA ‘removes misunderstandings’
Meanwhile, a day after catapulting herself to notoriety, newly-elected Syeda Wahida Shah Bukhari, from the PS-53 constituency in Tando Muhammad Khan, attempted to play down her own scandal. Appearing at a press conference on Sunday with the assistant presiding officer whom she had slapped at a polling station on Saturday, Bukhari said the misunderstanding has been removed.
“I became angry because of the rigging complaints,” said Bukhari. “We have close relations with her family.”
However, the woman Bukhari claimed to be the presiding officer, Shagufta Memon, was clad in a burqa and was unidentifiable. She turned down the request of reporters to remove the veil from her face for identification.
Earlier, Bukhari met the families of both her victims (she had assaulted an elderly woman on the same day) at their homes and sorted out the matter.
A television channel had caught Bukhari on camera smacking the young Shagufta Memon, after which she slapped another elderly woman, Habeeban Memon, driving her to tears.
The footage which exposed the onslaught has not been demanded, Returning Officer of PS-53 Asghar Ali Siyal confirmed while talking to The Express Tribune. “I asked the assistant commissioner to submit the statements of the staff and the candidate (Bukhari) but I haven’t received them yet,” he said.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM ABDUL MANAN IN LAHORE
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2012.