Bilawal, Maryam in battle of words as PPP bags NA-249

PML-N, PTI say they will challenge the results of the hotly-contested by-election


​ Our Correspondents April 30, 2021

KARACHI/LAHORE/ISLAMABAD:

As the election commission on Friday declared the PPP victorious in the NA-249 Karachi by-poll, its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said one arrow -- his party's election symbol -- had hunted down several targets including a lion.

In response, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, rejected the results, saying it was not easy to hunt down a lion, which is the election symbol of her party.

The ruling PTI, whose lawmaker Faisal Vawda had vacated the seat in the wake of his election to the Senate, also said it would challenge the results.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), PPP candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhel secured 16,156 votes against 15,473 bagged by PML-N's Miftah Ismail.

Surprisingly, the now proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) stood third as its candidate Allama Nazir Ahmed secured 11,125 votes.

Read more: ECP declares PPP's Qadir Mandokhel winner in NA-249 by-polls

The results further stated that the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) candidate Mustafa Kamal bagged 9,227 votes.

The PTI, which had won the seat in the last general elections, came fifth in the race.

Amjad Afridi could manage only 8,922 votes. The seat was last held by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) candidate Muhammad Mursaleen, who now received 7,511 votes.

The results also stated that the voter turnout remained 21.61%  in the constituency and the total votes cast were 73,471 out of 339,591 votes registered in the area.

Bilawal, while addressing a news conference in Karachi, said his party had defeated the PTI in every field.

“The people of Karachi have rejected the PTI government and we have scored a historic victory in NA-249,” he added.

Also read PML-N protests after NA-249 by-poll result swung for PPP

“The people stand with the opposition and disapprove of the ‘selected' government.”

Replying to a question on PML-N's allegations of rigging, the PPP chairman said that “our friends should learn to make peace with the results”.

“If someone is making allegations, prove them. Maryam Nawaz's statement is irresponsible,” he added.

“Instead of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan and the establishment, the PML-N likes to compete with the PPP.”

Bilawal also the PML-N to bring forward evidence to back its claims if it could or concede defeat.

“There was a lot of noise in the Daska election. Was there any firing here [in Karachi]? Was anyone abducted? No one can prove that the PPP has committed any wrongdoing.”

The PPP chairman said go through the history and see which party had committed the most rigging.

“Which party was originally selected? Now it will give us a lecture?” he added

Bilawal described the PML-s reaction to its defeat as “childish”, which would be against its own interests.

“We hunted many birds with one arrow, including a bat, a kite, a dolphin, mullahs and a tiger.”

Bilawal said his party’s move on the opposition alliance -- the Pakistan Democratic Movement -- was based on the decision made by its central executive committee.

“There are some friends in the opposition alliance who do not want to remove Imran Khan and [Punjab CM] Usman Bazdar. So what can we do?”

Bilawal also demanded the resignation of President Arif Alvi and Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem for filing a false reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

“The entire cabinet of the prime minister is involved in this. There should be an investigation into the conspiracy against Justice Isa.”

Also read The shared history of NA-249 and Imran Khan

The PPP chairman further said former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general Bashir Memon's statement must be viewed with suspicion.

“If any illegal order was being given to him [Memon], he should have come on TV,” he added.

“He [Memon] should be tried on contempt charges as instead of obeying court order, he went after the PPP.”

Separately, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter to ask the ECP to withhold the results of the disputed election in Karachi as “it was stolen”.

“The PML-N will only accept defeat when it is actually defeated,” she added.

“Hunting a lion is not that easy. The story of the tactics you used to defeat the lion is about to come out.”

She further wrote that the PML-N would continue its struggle for the rights of its people and the residents of NA-249.

In another development, Khurram Sher Zaman, a PTI MPA from Karachi, announced challenging the ECP results for the NA-248 election.

“The ECP failed to hold free and transparent election [in NA-249],” he said while addressing a news conference at the Insaf House in Karachi.

“We had asked the election commission not to hold the election during Ramazan as the turnout would be low because of the heat and female voters would not be able to cast their ballots,” he added.

“We reject the results and challenge them.”

The Sindh Assembly MPA said his party holds the ECP responsible for the surge in coronavirus cases in the province.

“All political parties in Sindh had requested the election commission to postpone the date of polling,” he added.

The MPA maintained that the PTI was winning till the night of April 28.

“When the election was held on the 29th, people were rushing to PTI camps,” he claimed.

Khurram further claimed that former MNA Faisal Vawda had spent Rs350 million on development work in the constituency.

“Three days ago, the PPP was nowhere in the surveys. [PML-N's] Miftah Ismail did not come even return to the constituency after listening to the residents.”

Taking to Twitter, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the PPP had held the whole system hostage for the sake of one seat, referring to the NA-249 by-election.

He urged the opposition parties to consider PM Imran's proposals for electoral reforms.

“The by-election in Karachi has further necessitated the need for reforms in the electoral system,” he wrote.

“The low voter turnout shows that people are losing their confidence in the election process.”

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif expressed his gratitude to the people of NA-249 and congratulated party candidate Miftah Ismail.

“I pay tribute to the way Miftah Ismail worked day and night. I am confident that the election commission will meet the requirements of justice and transparency,” he added.

“The whole country saw how he [Miftah] was deprived of a victory in the election.”

Shehbaz pledged that the party would continue raising its voice for the residents of NA-249.

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