KHUSHAB: Polling for by-elections ended in Khushab NA-69 and Haripur PK-50, with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate leading in the former, and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate leading the latter, Express News reported on Thursday.
Although the process was mostly peaceful, there were small incidents that disrupted the polls.
According to unofficial results, PML-N's candidate Uzair Muhammad Khan was most likely to clinch NA-69 Khushab.
Per provisional results, Khan won 92,805 votes in the by-elections. His closest rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Umar Aslam obtained 71,197 votes.
NA-69 consists of 298 polling stations and there are 337,654 registered voters in the constituency.
According to unofficial results, PTI’s candidate Akbar Ayub was leading PK-50 Haripur by-elections, having bagged 25,671 votes.
Per provisional results, Ayub’s closest rival, PML-N’s Qazi Asad obtained 19,969 votes. Independent candidate Babar Nawaz was a close third with 19,417 votes.
PK-50 consists of 116 polling stations while 23 polling stations were declared most sensitive. There are 84,814 registered male and 68,562 female voters in constituency.
Accusations between candidates
For PK-50 (Haripur), candidates from various parties hurled accusations at each other with many pointing fingers at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) Akbar Ayub Khan for holding dual nationalities of Canada and Pakistan.
They also alleged that Khan's campaign had benefited from a recent rally held in Haripur by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak.
Khan defended himself, stating that he has already surrendered his Canadian nationality and that the CM's rally was purely coincidental with Khattak in Haripur on a personal visit.
Alleged rigging in Khushab
Express News correspondent Mian Aslam reported that there was an alleged incident of poll rigging in Mian Chunnu.
Aslam saw two unidentified men stamping ballots near a hut in Mian Chunnu. He chased the men and was reportedly fired at. Despite that, he managed to recover some of the stamped ballots.
“I have the copy of the 100 page ballot paper stamps but the people who were rigging were able to escape with most of the ballots. After the polling ends, we can reveal which party’s ballots were being stamped," he said.
Aslam then confronted PTI Secretary General Jehangir Tareen about the stamped ballots, including some ballots on which the PTI's symbol (the bat) had been stamped.
Tareen claimed that "these ballot papers are with the government. We are the opposition party, so what power do we have to gain access to this? This act has been done on purpose to us, as you were given the information and taken to the area of rigging yourself. We do not do this kind of work."
The PTI secretary general alleged that polling had been halted for three hours just so the PML-N could stuff ballot boxes, and that the act had been exposed by PTI workers who seized those boxes.
"These things happen at polling stations and this will only stop when there is a neutral umpire or verification by a machine. Till then elections in Pakistan will not be fair. We need electronic voting - when the thumb is stamped, the machine will read it. Even today, the voting timing was extended when we did not even request it."
Voting in Khushab had been extended by an hour from the stipulated time of 5 pm to 6pm.
Women barred from voting
Women were restricted from voting and were not allowed to leave their houses to vote at polling station 135 in Khushab (NA-69). The people of the area stopped the women from voting and the women were sent back home without being able to vote.
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