LAHORE: NA-120 is set to become a battleground once again after the disqualification of former prime minster Nawaz Sharif.
Both PTI and PML-N are set to slug it out with strong candidates.
PML-N has put its heavyweight Shehbaz Sharif into the ring, while PTI’s runner up candidate in the last election, Dr Yasmin Rashid, will be his opponent. In the 2013 General Elections, Yasmin did not ruffle many feathers in the PML-N camp and only secured 52,354 compared to Nawaz Sharif’s 91,683.
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The registered number of women and male voters were 295,826 at that time with 166,714 representing the latter. The amount of people who turned up on election day to cast their ballot was 51.85% of the total registered.
In the general election of 2008, PML-N candidate Bilal Yaseen also took a comprehensive victory with 65,946 votes compared to his PPP opponent Jahangir Badar who had secured just 24,380 votes.
At that time, the registered voters in the constituency were 268,552 and just 36.28 percent of them turned up on the day of the polls.
According to data freshly updated by the Election Commission of Punjab in June 2017, the number of registered voters had reached 321,568 out of which 179,464 were men and 142,104 were women.
The residents of the said constituency gave mixed reactions to the upcoming by-elections, but all agreed it would be a tough contest between the two candidates.
Muhammad Ibrahim, a resident, said PTI would cash in on the Supreme Court’s verdict which disqualified former PM Nawaz Sharif. At the same time, PML-N will proclaim its innocence and continue with its age-old slogan of the lion, Nawaz Sharif, still being alive in people’s hearts.
Javed Akhtar said this would be the first “match” between the two leading parties after they battled it out on the legal front. He said that there would be tough competition as PML-N had been winning the constituency for a long time. “However, there could be difficult times ahead after the SC disqualified the former PM.”
Shehnaz Latif said the PML-N candidate still had an edge and will win the election due to the party’s performance in the province. When asked if the disqualification will affect the by-election, she said Nawaz Sharif was alive in people’s hearts.
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At the same time, Saeeda Munir said Dr Rashid will defeat Shehbaz Sharif as people were aware of her party’s stance against corrupt elements. She said the SC’s verdict was the last nail in PML-N’s coffin.
Talking to The Express Tribune, provincial government spokesperson Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said the people of NA-120 would reject the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict in the coming by-elections. He added voters had been casting their ballots based on the performance of PML-N and Nawaz Sharif.
Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed likened the by-election to a do or die situation for PML-N. He said people were aware of the corruption of the Sharifs and PML-N would focus its efforts on rigging the polls. However, Rasheed was still confident that PTI would emerge victorious.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2017.
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