PTI’s Sultan Mahmood defeats N-backed PPP candidate

Published March 30, 2015
Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI talks to reporters after his victory in by-election for LA-3, Mirpur-III, on Sunday.
Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI talks to reporters after his victory in by-election for LA-3, Mirpur-III, on Sunday.
Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI  casting his vote. — INP
Barrister Sultan Mahmood of PTI casting his vote. — INP

MUZAFFARABAD: Barrister Sultan Mahmood of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) defeated Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) by about 3,000 votes in a nerve-racking by-election on Sunday, once again proving to be an indomitable contestant in the Mirpur area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Munir Ahmed Chaudhry told Dawn by telephone that according to unofficial results from all the 111 polling stations of LA-3, Mirpur-III, Mr Mahmood had polled 15,485 votes against 12,559 by Mr Ashraf.

The PML-N nominee had withdrawn from the contest in favour of the PPP candidate.

“The polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere,” the CEC said.

He praised the Rangers, local administration officials and police personnel for maintaining law and order in the highly charged constituency.

The seat had fallen vacant after Mr Mahmood had resigned from the Legislative Assembly, a day before joining PTI on Feb 5 as its regional chief.

Ever since the announcement of election schedule, Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and a majority of his cabinet members had camped themselves in Mirpur and tried to woo voters by offering development schemes and donations.

In a dramatic development on Friday, the PML-N pulled out its candidate in favour of Mr Ashraf reportedly on a request made by former president Asif Ali Zardari to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to do so in order to “promote the policy of reconciliation under the spirit of the Charter of Democracy”.

However, the move failed to pay dividends as most of the PML-N workers did not vote for Mr Ashraf, which ultimately benefited Mr Mahmood who clinched a comfortable victory in what was initially termed a close fight.

Thousands of people thronged the election office of Mr Mahmood at Mian Mohammad Road and shouted vociferous slogans to celebrate his victory.

Mr Mahmood thanked the people of Mirpur for reposing trust in him and the PTI in the face of “temptations and coercions by the governments in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad”.

“We have taken two wickets from one ball,” he said, in a reference to the PPP and PML-N.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan called Mr Mahmood to congratulate him.

The constituency has seen voting in seven general elections since 1985 and Mr Mahmood has emerged victorious in all but one of them.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2015

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