Independent candidate Malik Amir Dogar, backed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), defeated senior politician Makhdoom Javed Hashmi on Thursday in the much anticipated by-election for NA-149 (Multan), which fell vacant after the latter’s resignation from the seat on August 18.
According to unofficial and unconfirmed results of all 286 polling stations, Dogar defeated Hashmi by a margin of more than 10,000 votes. Dogar bagged 57,972 votes while the former PTI president managed to secure 47,500 votes in the NA-149 by-poll.
Speaking to the media soon after the announcement on local TV channels, Hashmi conceded his defeat and congratulated the PTI-backed candidate for winning the by-election.
Meanwhile, Dogar thanked Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi for his victory in the by-election and vowed to fight for the rights of his constituency’s people.
The PTI-backed candidate said that he won the by-poll despite use of government resources and machinery against him.
Malik Amir Dogar also announced to join Tehreek-i-Insaf, giving all the credit of his victory to Imran Khan’s party.
“Today’s poll will be proved as first drop of rain,” he said, adding that a breeze of ‘change’ has started across the country from Karachi to Khyber.
Hashmi’s traditional candidate and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “Today, Multan has changed the Pakistani politics.”
Speaking to the media, a jubilant looking Qureshi said that Multan has taken two wickets in one ball. “Today, rabbit has devoured lion,” he said referring to electoral symbols of Dogar and the opponents PML-N.
Although standing as an independent candidate, Hashmi enjoyed support from the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N). He was also the biggest stakeholder in the poll with the result expected to have a definitive impact on his political future.
Whereas, Dogar has close contacts with the constituents, and had obliged many during the Pakistan Peoples Party's tenure when his father, Salahuddin Dogar, was a senator and a close aide of former president Zardari and then prime minister Gilani.
Another candidate Javed Siddiqui, who was PPP’s candidate for the seat, enjoyed the active support of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other mainstream leaders like Makhood Shahabuddin and senators Islamuddin Sheikh and Dr Qayyum Soomro.
Hashmi’s resignation, although sent on August 18, became a reality days after he made explosive claims about a plan allegedly scripted by the army to overthrow the government by using violent protests as a pretext. Prior to his press conference of September 1 in which he made the above claims, he had been supporting PTI’s anti-government demonstrations in Islamabad.
His remarks and allegations generated shock on part of PTI, of which he was the president at that time, and a denial from the military which rejected assertions that the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were behind the political standoff.
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Imran drums up Dogar win
Speaking to participants of his protest sit-in at D-Chowk in Islamabad, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that Multan has revealed who has been praised and who is snubbed.
He reiterated that his ‘Naya Pakistan’ would become a reality before next Eid. “No force in the world can stop Naya Pakistan from being formed.”
Hashmi concedes defeat against Dogar
According to unofficial and unconfirmed results of all 286 polling stations, Independent candidate Amir Dogar has defeated Makhdoom Javed Hashmi with a margin of more than 10,000 votes.
Dogar bagged 57,972 votes while the former PTI president managed to secure 47,500 votes in the NA-149 by-poll.
Speaking to the media, Hashmi conceded his defeat and congratulated the PTI-backed candidate for winning the by-election.
Dogar trumps Hashmi in initial unofficial results
According to unofficial and unconfirmed results of 179 polling stations, Independent candidate Amir Dogar is leading Makhdoom Javed Hashmi with 41,543 votes. Hashmi is at number two position with 33,972 votes so far in the NA-149 by-poll.
Poll results not going in my favour, admits Hashmi
Speaking to media representatives after announcement of initial unconfirmed, unofficial results of NA-149 by-election, Javed Hashmi admitted that poll results did not appear to be going in his favour. He vowed to felicitate the subsequent winner of the by-election.
“I will accept the election results…and will congratulate the winner,” he said.
The veteran politician also thanked the ruling PML-N party for supporting him despite having not been contacted for the same. “There is no contact with N-League, but still they worked day and night for me.”
Meanwhile, Amir Dogar told reporters that he was satisfied with the initial poll results so far and expressed trust on the people of the constituency for making him win the by-poll.
“I trust people of NA-149…I will come out victorious,” he said.
“I took part in the by-election as an independent candidate. However, I’ve got PTI’s support,” Dogar admitted.
Polling comes to a close at 5pm
Scuffle between PTI, PML-N workers in Shamsabad
A scuffle broke out among PTI and PML-N workers at a women's polling station 24-Shamsabad at around 4pm, with only one hour left for voting.
PTI supporters alleged that PML-N workers were trying to cast fake ballots inside the polling station. A contingent of Rangers and police personnel soon broke the scuffle, taking control of the station for polling to resume.
'PPP will surprise everyone'
Javed Siddiqui, who is PPP’s candidate for NA-149 and enjoys the active support of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said the nation should brace for a 'surprise' win by his party.
Siddiqui said he expected to win "at least 40-45 thousand votes today."
Returning officer rubbishes rigging claims
Returning officer Mian Shahid has rejected allegations of rigging by Amir Dogar and his supporters.
"I have gone to each polling station and I'm not aware of any such incident. Candidates must inform me in writing or verbally of such incidents and only then can we take action," Shahid said.
I will not celebrate: Hashmi
Speaking to the media prior to casting his vote, Javed Hashmi said he would not celebrate were he to win the election.
"In the backdrop of the current turmoil in the country, there will be no celebrations if I win the election."
Hashmi said the result of NA-149 would greatly impact the political climate of the country, adding that he would accept the outcome of the election graciously.
He also announced that he would not join any party if elected.
Dogar alleges 'irregularities', says he will join PTI if he wins election
Amir Dogar, who is being backed by PTI supporters, alleged massive 'irregularities' across several polling stations after casting his vote. He said his workers were harassed but added that they remained "undeterred".
"The state machinery is being used against us but we will win with a big majority," he said.
Dogar also announced that he would join PTI if he wins the election.
Police have removed several camps set up by supporters of Amir Dogar and Javed Hashmi for violating an ECP law which prohibit parties from "canvassing within 400 yards of a polling station including setting up of camps".
According to ECP, all contesting candidates and their supporters shall avoid scrupulously all activities, which are offences under the election laws, such as bribing of voters, intimidation, setting up of camps close to the polling stations.
Barred from voting
According to latest reports from Multan’s Gulgasht polling station no. 46, several female voters have alleged that they faced hindrances while casting votes for their preferred candidates.
Strict security measures
Strict security measures were observed and Rangers were also stationed around the polling stations to avoid any untoward incident.
The polling process will continue till 5pm.
According to sources, at least 106 polling stations have been declared sensitive.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) prepared a ‘specialised ink’ for the by-polls. This will be used instead of the magnetic ink, the use of which has been scrapped over 'traceability' concerns.
NA-149 over the years
The present day NA-149 Multan II was carved out of urban areas of NA-115 Multan after nationwide census conducted in 1998.
In the 1988 National Assembly elections PPP’s Riaz Hussain Qureshi, with a 41% vote share, won NA-115 against Pakistan Awami Itehad candidate Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi of JUP (Noorani) with a vote share of 34% and Babu Feroz Din Ansari of Jamaat Islami with 24%.
However, during the 1990 elections united religious-right candidate Kazmi on JUP (N) ticket bagged 58% votes, defeating PPP’s Qureshi who had a 40% vote share.
Similarly, during the 1993 elections, NA-115 was won by Haji Boota on Nawaz Sharif’s PML ticket with 51% vote share against PPP’s Riaz Hussain Qureshi.
In 1997, PPP replaced Qureshi with Salahuddin Dogar over NA-115 who managed a vote share of 29% and lost to PML Haji Boota who had a vote share of 66%.
Fast forward to 2002, split right with vote shares of 23% for MMA, 22% for PML (N) and 19% for PML (Q) helped PPP’s Liaquat Ali Dogar with a vote share of 35% capture freshly constituted NA-149.
In 2008 PML (N) consolidated its position with Javed Hashmi bagging 55% votes against PPP’s Malik Salahuddin Dogar's 36% vote share.
Interestingly, Javed Hashmi contesting over a PTI ticket for 2013 elections won with his career best 83,640 - a vote share of 45% against PML (N) Sheikh Muhammad Tariq Rasheed 73,861 votes or 39% vote share. He also reduced PPP’s Malik Muhammad Amir Dogar to a vote share of mere 11% who ironically is now opposing him as an independent in the by-election with PTI's support.