RAWALPINDI: Hundreds of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s jubilant supporters thronged Lal Haveli to celebrate the Awami Muslim League (AML) head’s victory over the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Malik Shakeel Awan in NA-55, where voter turnout reached almost 60 per cent, according to unofficial estimates.
The supporters distributed an assortment of sweets to visitors and party leaders entering the haveli through gates adorned with party flags, banners and posters of Ahmed. Tea and cold drinks were also served amid frenzied scenes.
Traffic was scarcely visible on major arteries, particularly Benazir Bhutto Road, but there was chaos on all routes leading to Lal Haveli.
“Who is Malik Shakeel Awan? We have not seen him since we voted him into power. He did not deserve to be elected again,” said an AML supporter, Sajid Khan.
Another supporter, Raja Salman, said, “We are happy to have made the right decision this time to vote for change. We have brought this change to NA-55, PP-12 and in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P),” referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) success in the province.
A smiling Ahmed, sitting on the second floor of the haveli with his trademark cigar in his hand, flashed victory signs at the crowd and could not contain his smile whenever local leaders entered the room to congratulate him.
“Perform and you will be reelected, this is the essence of democracy. I am thankful to God and the people for supporting me and giving me another chance to serve them,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune.
According to the unofficial Election Commission of Pakistan tallies, Ahmed raked in 88,532 votes to defeat PML-N rival Malik Shakeel Awan, who secured 75,275 votes.
Ahmed said he had been kept away from his people for five years under a well-planned conspiracy. This time around, however, opponents had failed to execute their designs, he added.
“I will remain among my people. It is my great desire to complete the projects I had launched but were left incomplete by the previous PML-N provincial government,” he said.
Ahmed also felicitated the PTI for its performance in K-P and attributed Imran Khan’s charisma and confidence in creating awareness among the masses for the large number of first-time voters in this year’s polls.
“The people of K-P have made history which will be written in gold. They deserve credit because they voted for change,” he said.
In PP-12, PTI’s Ijaz Khan Jazi secured over 28,000 votes against PML-N’s Sardar Naseem. “The PML-N looted public funds, but this time around we will form an opposition that won’t allow such incidents to happen,” Jazi said.
In the 2008 elections, Javed Hashmi won the seat with 76,980 votes on a PML-N ticket, beating the 37,397 votes accumulated by PPP’s Malik Amir Fida Paracha. Ahmad received only 15,780 votes.
Hashmi gave up his seat in NA-55 after winning another in Multan, leading to a by-election which Awan won by garnering 63,888 votes against Ahmed’s 42,000 votes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ