FAISALABAD, Oct 7: A wakeup call for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N): voters have rejected its candidate in by-election for PP-72.
According to unofficial results, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate Sheikh Khurram Shehzad emerged victorious with 23,972 votes against PML-N candidate Khawaja Liaqat Ali, the elder brother of disqualified MPA Khawaja Mohammad Islam, who got 17,625 votes. Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP’s) Rana Mushtaq stood third.
A large number of PTI supporters gathered at the candidate’s main office on Jail Road and danced to drum beats.
In the May general elections, PML-N’s Islam had clinched the seat by securing 53,899 votes while PTI’s Sheikh Salman Arif got 22,003 votes.
But that was then.
The PTI replaced Arif with Shehzad who is also considered an influential businessman and exploited the performance of the PML-N government in Punjab and the Centre.
The PP-72 constituency is an urban area consisting of Clock Tower Bazaars, Gulberg, Jinnah Colony, Mohammad Pura, Gulshan Colony, Awami Colony, Sharif Pura, Afghan Abad, Model Town, Gurunanak Pura, Gobind Pura, Madanpura, Raja Colony, Raja Town, Rehman Pura, Chak 279 and other localities.
The seat fell vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified Khawaja Islam for his fake BA degree on July 18. Khawaja Islam is on pre-arrest bail.
More than 30 candidates applied for the PML-N ticket considering the constituency a stronghold of the party. The party fielded Khawaja Liaqat.
All markets of the Clock Tower Bazaar remained closed throughout the day in connection with polling of the constituency and scores of people remain present in offices set up by supporters of the candidates in different localities of PP-72.
A polling officer identified as Mohammad Rafiq was taken into custody from Madanpura for mismanagement. District Returning Officer Khaliqu Zaman told Dawn that he had made his office phone public so that people could contact him in case of any wrongdoing.
Offices of private entities and some schools remained opened despite a local holiday by the government. A number of people stayed away from the polling as turnout remained low as compare to the May last general elections.