The PML-N candidate, Ghulam Raza, won with a clear majority in the by-polls of PP-13 on Wednesday, according to unofficial results.
Low voter turnout marked the elections in which Raza secured 12969 votes followed by independent candidate, Raja Shahid Pappu, with 4006 votes. Ishtiaq Mirza, independent candidate, received 3995 votes and Awami Muslim League’s Abid Mughal garnered 719 votes.
Chaudhary Adnan of Pakistan Muslim League Quaid Azam gathered 3,003 votes.
District Returning Officer Sheikh Yaqoob said that the turnout was extremely low, as only 17.69 per cent of the registered voters showed up to cast their vote.
Lack of public interest in the by-polls was evident in the early hours of the morning when polling stations were near-deserted.
Even the camps set up by the candidates outside the polling stations were unable to muster up a significant number of people.
Polling got underway at the allotted time of 8am, but according to the polling station staff, the voter turnout was around six per cent some two to three hours into the day.
Only two hundred voters showed up at the Dhok Chirghdeen polling station till 1:30pm, where the number of registered voters was 1416.
A similar trend was witnessed at the polling station number 14 where the registered number of voters was 1170. After seven hours into the polling, only 170 voters showed up.
Muslim League-Nawaz’s candidate Ghulam Raza denied the claims that public was disinterested in the result of these polls, which were being termed by many as a mere formality. “The main reason why the turnout has been a little low is because of the holy month of Ramazan. Most of the people are fasting and it is difficult to stand in long queues in this humid weather.”
Raza also lamented the lack of time accorded to the candidates to run the election campaign. “We were only given 15 days to make preparations and rally the public support. I think we have done a good job given the time constraints,” he said.
Even the low turnout did not ensure smooth elections as panic gripped the F.G. Boys School polling station after police arrested a person with weapons. A suspicious man was stopped from entering the station and after checking, police recovered a loaded pistol along with bullets from him.
A case was registered under the Illegal Weapon Act and the person was taken into custody.
Soon after, the security was put on alert and the arrested individual claimed in the initial investigation that he carried a weapon due to personal enmity.
Moreover, situation also grew tense after the opposing candidates started protesting over alleged foul cry by the ruling party PML-N. They accused the Punjab government of rigging in favour of Ghulam Raza. “We were not shown empty ballot boxes in the morning,” some of them claimed.
After they protested against the non-cooperating officials present at the polling booths, senior leadership of PML-N from the area came to the rescue to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
Ghulam Raza, along with other representatives from the party, told the other candidates that they were brothers and indiscipline or unruly behavior would not help anyone. Police contingent was also increased to avert any untoward incident.
Ishtiaq Mirza, an independent candidate, said, while talking to journalists outside the Tamasmabad polling station, “Voters supporting candidates were being threatened.
Fake identity cards are also being used, especially forged ones with no picture on them.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2010.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 26, 2010
Due to a typographical error, by-polls were incorrectly spelled as bye-polls. The error has been corrected.
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