By-elections held in Lahore amid low turnout

Rafique earlier vacated seat after he was elected to NA-131

Our Correspondent December 14, 2018

LAHORE: Low turnout and a peaceful polling process was witnessed in Lahore's PP-168 by-elections on Thursday.

In the early hours of the day, just a few voters, mostly women and the youth, exercised their right to vote. However, by the afternoon, people showed more interest in the polling process.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Federal Minister for Railway Khawaja Saad Rafique vacated this seat as he was elected to the National Assembly from NA-131 Lahore in the by-polls in October. He secured this seat with 34,114 votes and defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Muhammad Fiaz Bhatti, who could hardly secure 14,940 votes. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) Sajid Mehmood also got 9,408 votes, followed by little over 2,000 votes of the PPP candidate Muhammad Maqbool.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) data, 11 candidates took part in by-elections, including main contenders of the PML-N's Rana Khalid Mahmood and the PTI's Malik Asad Ali. The total number of registered voters was 126,862, including 73,703 males and 53,161 females. The constituency was comprised of middle and low-income neighbourhoods, like Ghazi Road, Chungi Amar Sadhu, Pak Arab Housing Society, parts of Saroba-Attari and adjoining areas.

The ECP had set up 83 polling stations, of which 27 were for men, 25 for women and 31 joint polling stations for both male and female voters. The polling process started at 8am and continued till 5pm without a break. Police and Punjab Rangers officials were deployed to ensure a peaceful environment.

Both the PTI and PML-N had extensively done electioneering in the constituency and displayed banners, posters, and flexes of their candidates. However, voters paid little attention to the polling process owing as it was a working day.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, a local resident Shabnum Bibi said only female voters were coming to polling stations since all male members of their families were at work. She said she along with her neighbours came to cast her vote since her sons were at college and her husband was at his shop.

Muhammad Ali, another voter said he was supporting PML-N candidate Rana Khalid Mahmood so he took a leave from his office. "I am here to support my party's candidate and will remain here till the last minute of the polling."



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