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PML-N reclaims 'Takht-i-Lahore'

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PML-N supporters celebrating Ayaz Sadiq's victory in NA-122 outside Lahore Press Club. – Online
PML-N supporters celebrating Ayaz Sadiq's victory in NA-122 outside Lahore Press Club. – Online
Security personnel have been deployed in Lahore and Okara to provide security at sensitive polling stations. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Security personnel have been deployed in Lahore and Okara to provide security at sensitive polling stations. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Contingents of Army and Rangers personnel have been deployed at Lahore and Okara polling stations. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Contingents of Army and Rangers personnel have been deployed at Lahore and Okara polling stations. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Security has been deployed at Okara's NA-144 constituency. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Security has been deployed at Okara's NA-144 constituency. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Voting under way in Okara's NA-144 constituency. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Voting under way in Okara's NA-144 constituency. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Election posters and flyers on display in Lahore. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Election posters and flyers on display in Lahore. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Polling instructions for by-polls. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Polling instructions for by-polls. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Voting at Okara's NA-144 is under way. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Voting at Okara's NA-144 is under way. ─ DawnNews screengrab.

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League – N leader and former National Assembly speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, reclaimed his NA membership after winning re-election in the same constituency he was deseated from in August, defeating Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's Aleem Khan after a tight contest, reported DawnNews.

Unofficial results from all 284 polling stations in NA-122 put PML-N's Ayaz Sadiq as victorious, bagging around 75,000 votes, while PTI's Aleem Khan came in second with around 71,000 votes.

In Lahore's provincial assembly constituency, PP-147, PTI's Shoaib Siddiqui won the by-poll, defeating Mohsin Latif of the PML-N, DawnNews reported.

In Okara's NA-144, independent candidate Riazul Haq Juj came out victorious with around 63,000 votes per unofficial results, with PML-N's Ali Arif Chaudhry coming in second, bagging around 36,000 votes, DawnNews reported. PTI's Ashraf Sohna came out fourth in the constituency.

PML-N leaders were joyous on the occasion, with Maryam Nawaz, Abid Sher Ali, Khawaja Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafique taking to social media website, Twitter, to express their reactions.

PML-N supporters were also seen celebrating the victory in various parts of the city, distributing sweets and setting off fireworks.

Army and Rangers personnel were deployed at both Lahore and Okara polling stations.

A bridegroom in Okara cast their votes during the NA-144 by-poll. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
A bridegroom in Okara cast their votes during the NA-144 by-poll. ─ DawnNews screengrab.

There are nearly 350,000 registered voters in Lahore and 316,000 in Okara.

Of the 284 polling stations in Lahore, there are 134 each for men and women, while 16 polling stations are for both genders. The entire constituency has been declared 'sensitive', but 12 polling stations have been labelled 'highly sensitive' and more security personnel have been deployed here.

In Okara, there are 210 polling stations, 25 of which have been declared 'sensitive'.

CM Shahbaz takes notice of threatening messages to MPA

PML-N MPA Uzma Bukhari, nominated to the women's quota seat W-318 in 2013, said she had been receiving threatening messages allegedly from PTI supporters since Friday.

She said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Ministry Chaudhry Nisar, Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, and the Cyber Crime Cell had been in contact with her.

CM Shahbaz has also directed Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera to conduct an inquiry into the incident and sought a report in this regard, the IGP's office confirmed. Shahbaz ordered the immediate arrest of those involved in the act.

Vote your conscience: Aleem Khan

PTI candidate for NA-122 Aleem Khan while speaking to reporters asked voters to "vote their conscience".

He said the party was satisfied with security arrangements for the elections, adding, "If the election is transparent and continues this way till 5:00pm, then we have no complaints."

Aleem Khan said party chairman Imran Khan was due in Lahore shortly.

PTI NA-122 candidate Aleem Khan speaking to reporters. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
PTI NA-122 candidate Aleem Khan speaking to reporters. ─ DawnNews screengrab.

'Registered complaints with ECP', says PTI

Voting at polling stations 96 and 98 was temporarily suspended, amidst fears of rigging by a PTI polling agent.

While speaking to DawnNews, the agent said "The ballot boxes were not sealed in front of us, the ballot papers were not checked in front of us, and when Ayaz Sadiq came, they quickly started the balloting while only one polling agent of ours was inside."

"As per election commission rules, all boxes have to be attested and sealed in front of a polling agent. They did everything themselves. When Ayaz Sadiq came, they immediately started polling," he claimed.

"We think polling should be suspended until the matter is resolved, otherwise there might be rigging," he said. An application was submitted to the presiding officer detailing the matter and polling resumed shortly after.

Meanwhile, there were 30 complaints filed with the ECP relating to by-elections in NA-122 Lahore, most of which were regarding the non-registration and absence of names from the voter's list.

Several polling agents belonging to PTI had also submitted complaints with their respective Returning Officers regarding non-functioning CCTV cameras installed at the polling stations.

Additional Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Fida Muhammad Khan said that no rigging complaints or complaints against polling staff and security personnel had been filed so far. They added that no request had been received for extension of polling time and only those voters will be allowed to cast their votes who are inside the polling stations by 5pm.

While speaking to the press, PTI's Chaudhry Sarwar took notice of suspension of voting at the Garhi Shahu polling stations and said he was hopeful the presence of Army and Rangers would help prevent rigging.

The PTI said it had registered its complaints with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Will accept result: Ayaz Sadiq

PML-N candidate Ayaz Sadiq speaking to the media Sunday morning said his party would "accept the result, whatever it is".

"Hopefully it will be in our favour," he added.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq speaking to the media on election day. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq speaking to the media on election day. ─ DawnNews screengrab.

The former National Assembly speaker said his morale was high. "I am very jubilant, very happy, very focused, and very confident," he told reporters.

"Look at my camp and look at other party's camps ─ you will see the difference," he said. "Our polling agents reached our camps at 7:00am, despite polling beginning at 8:00am."

The PML-N has also asked activists not to engage in fights and arguments, Ayaz said. "Calmly cast your votes. If people are fighting, instead of taking the law into your hands, inform the police," he said.

DawnNews footage showed Ayaz Sadiq casting his vote at the Garhi Shahu polling station.

Ayaz Sadiq exercising his right to vote at the Garhi Shahu polling station. ─ DawnNews screengrab.
Ayaz Sadiq exercising his right to vote at the Garhi Shahu polling station. ─ DawnNews screengrab.

By-polls: What you need to know

The much-awaited by-election in Lahore’s NA-122 constituency ─ the ‘Takht-i-Lahore’ ─ is where former National Assembly speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of the PML-N, faces off against Aleem Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Re-election for Okara's NA-144 constituency is mainly a fight between the ruling PML-N candidate, Ali Arif Chaudhry, and independent candidate Riazul Haq Juj. The election will also be contested by PTI's Ashraf Sohna and PPP district president and former MNA Chaudhry Sajjadul Hasan

Both NA-122 and NA-144 fell vacant when an election tribunal de-seated Ayaz Sadiq and Arif Chaudhry.

The contest for the provincial assembly seat, PP-147, is mainly between PML-N’s Mian Mohsin Latif and PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui.

Take a look: NA-122 election tribunal deseats Ayaz Sadiq, orders re-polling.

NA-122: 'Takht-i-Lahore'

Ayaz Sadiq had been elected to the NA from the same constituency in the 2013 general election, having defeated PTI Chairman Imran Khan. But on Aug 22 this year, an election tribunal deseated Ayaz Sadiq, declaring the 2013 election in the constituency null and void, and ordered a re-election.

The decision had come following a petition by runner-up candidate Imran Khan, who had challenged the 2013 election result on grounds of rigging.

While the PML-N leader has challenged the tribunal’s decision in the Supreme Court on grounds that the “election tribunal’s impugned order was against facts and relevant laws,” his party had decided to contest the by-poll in light of the election tribunal’s order.

The by-poll has gathered a lot of hype not just because of the high-profile personalities involved but also because NA-122 was among the four controversial constituencies — the other three being NA-110 (Sialkot), NA-125 (Lahore) and NA-154 (Lodhran) — where PTI had demanded for voters’ thumbprint verification in the hopes of determining the legitimacy of the 2013 general election.

It is pertinent to mention here that other than NA-110, election tribunals in the remaining three constituencies (NA-125, NA-122, NA-154) had also declared the respective elections as null and void, ordering re-polls.

Ayaz Sadiq has been able to gather support of a group of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by Dr Safdar Abbasi, Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan Noorani (JUP), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam – Fazl and other clerics in the constituency.