In what is a major a shot in the arm with the elections around the corner, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s horses for courses strategy worked wonders on by-polls held on Tuesday.
The by-polls were held for nine seats vacated by lawmakers who resigned due to their dual nationalities, following Supreme Court and Election Commission of Pakistan orders.
According to unofficial results, of eight by-polls held in Punjab – for two National Assembly (NA) and six provincial assembly (PP) seats – PML-N bagged seven seats – one NA and six PP. The victories included re-winning its vacated seats, and snapping up one seat (NA-162 Sahiwal) vacated by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which left Punjab empty-handed. The ruling party’s candidate had joined the PML-N and managed to win the seat for his new party.
While all its victories were by a large margin, the one seat that PML-N did not snap up was a close contest, with PML-Quaid (PML-Q) managing to retain its vacated seat.
Another alarming sign for the PPP and PML-Q, who had recently adopted a joint candidate strategy against the PML-N, was the result of NA-107 Gujrat. According to reports, the losing candidate here, Rehman Naseer, was a joint candidate of PML-Q and PPP. Reports said that Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and other PPP government high-ups had campaigned for Naseer. However, PML-N’s Malik Hanif Awan managed a massive victory, according to unofficial results.
The one by-poll outside Punjab, in Naushero Feroz, Sindh, for a provincial assembly seat was retained by the PPP.
The National Assembly constituencies on which by-polls were held were NA-107 Gujrat-IV and NA-162 Sahiwal-III. The provincial assembly constituencies include one for the Sindh Assembly – PS-21 Naushero Feroz-III – and the others for the Punjab Assembly – PP-26 Jhelum-III, PP-92 Gujranwala-II, PP-122 Sialkot-II, PP-129 Sialkot-IX, PP-133 Narowal-II and PP-226 Sahiwal-VII.
The lawmakers included six from the PML-N, two from the PPP and one from the PML-Q.
Meanwhile, authorities of the provincial election commission have a sought a report on violations of the code of conduct during the by-polls. Punjab Chief Minister and PML-N Punjab president Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of incidents of firing in various areas during the polls and has sought a report from the Punjab police chief in this regard. He directed that stern action should be taken against those involved in criminal acts.
Shahbaz also congratulated the PML-N candidates on their victory in the by elections and said the results of the polls were reflective of the confidence people have in the PML-N.
NA 162 Sahiwal
Newly inducted PML-N member Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal won back his NA seat with 75,966 votes, while independent candidate Rai Hassan Nawaz followed with 65,775 votes. The seat was vacated by Iqbal when he was in the PPP; however, he went on to later join the PML-N. According to the PML-N’s media office, Iqbal defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed independent candidate Rai Hassan Nawaz.
NA 107 Gujrat
According to unofficial results, PML-N candidate Malik Hanif Awan bagged 70,434 votes, while PML-Q’s Rehman Naseer got 49,074 votes till the filing of the story. This seat was vacated by a PML-N MNA.
PP 26 Jehlum
PML-N-backed candidate Ch Khadim Hussain got 73,905 votes, while independent candidate Raja Muhammad Afzal Khan was the runner up. This seat was vacated by a PML-N member, who left the party due to intra-party differences. After winning, Hussain announced to join the PML-N.
PP 226 Sahiwal
Even though this seat was vacated by a PML-Q member, PML-N candidate Muhammad Hanif Jutt bagged 42,294 votes, while PML-Q’s Naseem Iqbal was the runner up.
PP 92 Gujranwala
PML-N candidate Nawaz Chohan bagged 36,537 votes, while PPP’s Lala Asad followed with 16,492 votes. This seat was vacated by a PML-N member.
PP 122 Sialkot
PML-N’s candidate Muhammad Akram bagged 27,291 votes, while PPP’s Raja Aamir received 4,797 votes. This seat was vacated by PML-N.
PP 129 Sialkot
PML-N candidate Mohsin Ashraf bagged 52,195 votes, while PML-Q’s Ch Ansar Iqbal got 30,148 votes. This seat was vacated by the PML-N.
PP 133 Norowal
PML-Q’s candidate Chaudhry Umar Sharif bagged 28,998 votes, while PML-N’s Dr Niamat Ali followed closely with 22,537 votes. This seat was vacated by PML-N’s Dr Tahir Ali Javed.
PS-21 Naushero Feroz-III
According to unofficial results from 106 out of 129 polling stations, PPP candidate Syed Sarfaraz Shah bagged more than 29,850 votes, while National Peoples Party’s Syed Abrar Shah trailed behind with 21,552 votes.
The seat had fallen vacant following the resignation of PPP’s Dr Ahmed Ali Shah for possessing dual nationality.
Although there were 16 candidates contesting the by-polls from the area, the main contenders were Sarfaraz Shah, Abrar Shah and independent candidate Zohaib Shah, who is the nephew of PPP MNA Syed Zafar Ali Shah. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SARAFAZ MEMON IN SUKKUR)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012.
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