KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) candidate Kunwar Naveed Jamil was declared the winner of the by-election held in Karachi's NA-246 constituency, according to an announcement made by Syed Nadim Haider, a returning officer for the by-election in the constituency early on Friday.
Kunwar Naveed Jamil bagged 95,644 votes followed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Ismail with 24,821 votes. Jamaat-i-Islami’s (JI) Rashid Naseem grabbed the third spot with 9,056 votes.
Giving details of the balloting, Haider said that a total of 131,418 votes were cast in the NA- 246 by-poll out of which 1,129 votes were rejected.
He further said that the total turnover of the by-poll was at 36.72 per cent.
By-election was held in NA-246 on Thursday after the seat fell vacant when MQM’s Nabeel Gabol resigned from the National Assembly a few months ago.
Know more: MQM candidate leads in NA-246
The involvement of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and JI chief Sirajul Haq had turned what was just a simple by-election for one seat into an electoral battlefield of national importance.
Speaking to DawnNews, Imran Ismail said PTI will accept the outcome of today's by-elections.
Ismail said the prevention of election-day rigging is a great leap forward, and that in the future, pre-election rigging through presiding officers and by means of lists will also be stopped. He said the party fought well and if MQM candidate Kanwar Naveed Jameel wins, he will congratulate him.
MQM supporters have already gathered at Jinnah Ground to celebrate the anticipated win of MQM's Kanwar Naveed Jameel of the NA-246 constituency, after being summoned by party chief Altaf Hussain.
|MQM supporters dance to celebrate victory of their candidate for NA-246, Kunwar Naveed Jamil. -ONLINE|
There were reports of clash between the supporters of rival political parties at Karimabad, where PTI's central election office was located.
PTI Karachi president Ali Zaidi denounced the hooliganism of MQM workers who reportedly attacked PTI camp office in Karimabad, hurled stones and set the PTI flag on fire.
In a statement issued from PTI Media Cell, Zaidi condemned the behaviour of MQM which, according to him “welcomes PTI on one hand, while on the other hand, it sends party activists to attack the PTI office and workers”.
“Our peacefulness shouldn’t be considered as our weakness,” Zaidi asserted. We don’t want to spoil the peace of Karachi, he added.
Rangers personnel reached Karimabad to keep the crowd in check and disperse the mob which had gathered outside PTI election office. They baton-charged the protesters and aided the police's efforts to control the mob, several arrests were also made.
It was after this that Altaf Hussain asked MQM supporters and party members to remain calm and peaceful.
Imran Ismail told DawnNews that PTI was satisfied with today’s election. "We haven't yet received complaints about rigging," he said. "The party's reservations with the ECP, however, still stand."
Earlier during the day, MQM leader Farooq Sattar had demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to extend the time of voting by 3 hours.
He said the voter turnout was historic despite the fact that it was a by-election. "Elderly persons, women and youth have come out with so much of passion; I pay a tribute to them."
However, despite voters' complaints, and concerns voiced by various political parties about the slow voting process, the ECP had confirmed that there was no need to extend polling time.
Speaking to media personnel, PTI chief Imran Khan said "today's by-election would not have been possible without the deployment of Rangers during the polling considering the sense of fear that has been created" in the constituency.
Referring to MQM's complaint that the voting process was slowed down, Imran said, "I think MQM is already making excuses because they know they will not manage 140,000 votes this time."
Imran said he was optimistic the result of the by-election will be "favourable". He further said it was a positive development for Karachi that finally true elections were taking place there.
213 polling stations were set up with 769 polling booths housed in 55 buildings, for 357,861 registered voters. Around 2,556 policemen provided security in the constituency, whereas Rangers personnel were also deployed at almost all polling stations.
Although 14 candidates were in the run, but the by-poll was largely a three-way contest between Kanwar Naveed Jameel of MQM, Imran Ismail of PTI and Rashid Naseem of JI.
The counting of votes started soon after the polling ended for the fiercely contested NA-246 by-election at 5pm, after a day of polling amid unprecedented security. Rangers personnel have been closely monitoring the counting process behind closed doors as no unauthorised person was allowed to enter the premises.
The constituency is considered to be an MQM bastion because its headquarters Nine Zero is located there and the party had emerged victorious in all three previous general elections in 2002, 2008 and 2013 and in a by-election in May 2004. It comprises Federal B. Area, Federal Capital Area and parts of Liaquatabad.