The ruling Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) had a severe shock in Daska by-election as opposition Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) retained the National Assembly seat by a big margin of more than 16,000 votes.
In the by-elections in the constituency NA 75 held on Saturday, PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar, according to unofficial results, polled 110,075 votes against PTI’s Ali Asjad Malhi, who bagged 93,433 votes.
The by-election had become a high stake affair for both the parties after the PML-N alleged rigging and “stealing of mandate” in the elections held in February and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) annulled the results and ordered re-polling.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in a Twitter message dedicated the victory to those who were killed on February 19.
Voting continued from 8 in the morning till 5pm without a break. The voters who were in the polling stations have been allowed to cast their votes. The process of voting remained dull till noon and after 3pm voters thronged the polling stations.
Polling in the by-election was held under tight security with no ugly incident reported. Rangers were deployed to assist police and local administration in the peaceful conduct of voting.
PTI leader Usman Dar visited the Government College for Women, Daska, polling station to review the polling process. As he reached outside the polling station, supporters of the PTI and the PML-N raised slogans. Both the parties accused each other of corruption and rigging.
Talking to the media, Dar said that there won’t be any violence at polling stations in the city because PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah isn’t there. “Our captain [Prime Minister Imran Khan] isn’t someone who gets scared easily or accepts defeat,” he added.
PML-N’s Ataullah Tarrar also visited the Bakhrewali polling station. He claimed that he had received reports of rigging.
It is reported that Tarar had an argument with PTI supporters outside the Goindke polling station.
Meanwhile, nine people were arrested from outside Polling Station No 17 and weapons were recovered from their possession, said the Election Commission. An FIR has been registered against them.
It said the arrested men belonged to the PTI and the PML-N.
Besides ruling PTI and PML-N, Chaudhry Khalil Sindho of the Tehrik Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and six independent candidates are contesting the election.
SHOW-CAUSE NOTICES: The ECP issued a show-cause notice to PML-N MPA Zeeshan Rafique for violating the election code of conduct.
The district election commissioner has also sought an explanation from the MPA within a day.
The district monitoring officer, in the meantime, issued show-cause notices to PML-Q leader Chaudhry Saleem Bariar and Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan for violating the code of conduct.
PML-Q leader Bariar had a day before announced a development package of Rs500 million for the constituency and Awan had announced the package for the constituency during a press conference.
“The announcement of development packages for the constituency is a violation of the code of conduct,” the ECP said.
The district monitoring officer sought a reply from both within two days.
By-election was held in NA 75 on February 19, but the ECP declared the results invalid on the allegations of fraud and ordered re-election. The PTI challenged the ECP decision and the apex court upheld the decision to hold re-polling on April 10.
There are 360 polling stations in the constituency of which 47 have been declared sensitive. More than 4,000 police and other security agencies personnel have been deputed to maintain law and order.
Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan alias Pir Zahiray Shah of the PML-N was elected MNA in the general election of 2018. The constituency fell vacant due to his death in August 2020. By-election in the constituency was delayed due to coronavirus pandemic.
THE HISTORY: The constituency has been a People’s Party (PPP) stronghold in the 1970s, as it won in the 1970 and 1977 elections.
In 1988 elections, held after 11-year rule of General Zia-ul-Haq, PPP candidate Khurshid Alam retained the seat.
However, in the 1990 elections, Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) candidate Nazeer Ahmed Khan ended the PPP’s reign on the seat. PML-N took over the constituency from the PPP and its candidate Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hasan returned a winner in the 1993 and 1997 elections.
When General Pervaiz Musharraf restored democracy in 2002, the PML-Q candidate, now a member of the PTI, Ali Asjad Malhi, won the seat.
In the 2008, 2013 and 2018 elections, the PML-N completed hat trick of victory in the constituency. In 2018, the TLP emerged as potential force that can challenge the PPP and the PML-N.
It’s a developing story.