It’s virtually PML-N vs PTI in Multan today

Published October 16, 2014
MULTAN: Officials carry electoral material here on Wednesday for the by-election to be held on Thursday for the National Assembly’s NA-149, Multan seat.—PPI
MULTAN: Officials carry electoral material here on Wednesday for the by-election to be held on Thursday for the National Assembly’s NA-149, Multan seat.—PPI

MULTAN: With the focus of national politics suddenly shifting to a by-election in Multan being seen as the first electoral test between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N and Imran Khan’s PTI after the Islamabad sit-in and a large public gatherings hosted by the cricketer-turned politician, a controversy over airdropping of pamphlets seeking votes for government-backed Javed Hashmi on Wednesday after the end of campaigning added to the interest in the close contest.

According to sources, Regional Election Commissioner Ghulam Israr Khan took notice of the matter and brought it to the notice of the Provincial Election Commission. However, arrangements made by the PEC for today’s polling for NA-149 seat remained unaffected.

Also read: NA-149 electioneering ends

According to the code of conduct for candidates, the electioneering ended at Tuesday midnight. A violation of the code of conduct may result into disqualification of a candidate and a six-month prison sentence or fine.

Addressing a press conference, Javed Hashmi said he was not aware of the airdropping of the pamphlets which had been arranged by one of his supporters.

But, he asserted, distribution of pamphlets was not a violation of the code of conduct because it (the pamphlet) was just an advertisement, and not a campaign.

“Advertisements have been published in newspapers and are being aired by television channels today. These will be published and aired even on the polling day.”

During the 2002 elections, he said, pamphlets in favour of Dr Tahirul Qadri had been airdropped on the eve of the polling day and the Election Commission of Pakistan had declared that it was not a violation of the code of conduct.

He said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi should have read the code of conduct before issuing a statement in this regard.

Mr Hashmi said hostile media groups had launched a propaganda campaign against him.

Meanwhile, District Coordina­tion Officer Zahid Saleem Gondal has declared a local holiday in the city on Thursday in connection with the by-election.

He has banned firing in the air and display of weapons by imposing section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the constituency.

A complaint cell, headed by District Election Commissioner Amir Ashfaq, has been established at the Government Emerson College, Bosan Road.

Under a security plan, police will deploy over 6,500 personnel at 286 polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Seraiki Lok Party has decided to support Pakistan People’s Party candidate Dr Javed Siddiqi.

The decision was made at a meeting of the party presided over by its president Maz­har Nawaz Baloch.

The main contest is between Mr Hashmi and Malik Aamir Dogar, a PPP leader who now enjoys support of the PTI.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2014

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