The compilation of polling results in the NA-120 by-elections started right after voting ended on Sunday evening for the National Assembly seat which was left vacant by Nawaz Sharif's ouster in the Panama case verdict.
According to the unverified and unofficial results being shared by DawnNews late Sunday night, PML-N's candidate Kulsoom Nawaz received 61,254 votes while Dr Yasmin Rashid got 47,066 votes from the 220 polling stations in the constituency.
Yaqoob Sheikh, an independent candidate backed by the newly formed Milli Muslim League (MML), stood third according to the provisional results while PPP's Faisal Mir was fourth — these rankings, however, cannot be considered final until the Election Commission of Pakistan issues its official results, expected on Tuesday.
A close contest was observed between PTI's candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid and Kulsoom Nawaz.
"Not only have NA-120 voters rejected the Supreme Court's decision [disqualifying Nawaz Sharif], but also rejected the court's spokesmen," Maryam Nawaz Sharif said while speaking to supporters after provisional results showed decisive victory for PML-N.
Speaking from the same balcony in Model Town from which Nawaz Sharif had given his victory speech in 2013, Maryam said: "Voters have given a decision on a decision, which is that our prime minister is still Nawaz Sharif."
She also alleged that PML-N workers, including a union council (UC) chairman, were picked up and threatened by unknown persons before the elections. However, she said that all UC chairmen remained steadfast and gave her hope when she called them last night.
"You cannot stop people's power with these tactics," Maryam warned "those conspiring against the PML-N" without naming anyone. She also thanked the supporters on behalf of Kulsoom and Nawaz Sharif.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan thanked party workers, especially women, "who worked tirelessly in the election campaign," in a Twitter message. "Applaud courage and determination with which Dr Yasmin Rashid fought NA-120 election against federal, provincial and local government backed PML-N with their massive funds."
"We are compiling all results and will discuss final results when they are available," PTI candidate said, thanking media for its support in highlighting the "excesses committed against her party". "We will discuss things in detail in a press conference tomorrow."
Speaking to DawnNews earlier, PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani expressed confidence that his party will win the contest "with a good margin".
"It is as if Nawaz Sharif himself was leading the campaign," Kirmani said about public response to the PML-N campaign led by Maryam Nawaz in the constituency.
PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to DawnNews, said that he was happy and satisfied with the polling process. “We've received encouraging reports from the field and from the results that have come in so far,” he said.
“Even if the end result comes against us, it will be considered a win for PTI since it is the PML-N's home and we gave them a tough time in their home constituency,” Qureshi maintained. “PTI has not only fought well but is in the lead so far from a constituency where PML-N has always won.”
While speaking to reporters in London, Nawaz Sharif said that his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, led a good campaign in NA-120. "The people of the constituency were very responsive [toward PML-N]," the former prime minister said, refusing to comment further on the election.
In a report released on the eve of the much-hyped contest, Fafen observers said they had recorded an average of four violations per polling station, considerably higher than the 2.6 violations per station observed in the NA-260 election held earlier this year.
Over 321,786 voters registered in Lahore's densely populated constituency voted to elect their representative to the National Assembly. There were 44 candidates in the run for the seat but the real contest was evidently between PTI's Dr Yasmeen Rashid and PML-N's Kulsoom Nawaz.
Voters were expected to turn up in good numbers at the polling stations in view of the intense mobilisation campaign by the prominent candidates.
The official results of the by-election will be released later by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The NA-120 seat had fallen vacant after the Supreme Court disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers verdict.
The highly-contested election has been viewed as a litmus test to see how the SC verdict affected those who have elected Nawaz to office thrice in since 1990.
A total of 44 candidates contested for the National Assembly seat from Lahore, with three major contenders.
While the ruling party fielded Kulsoom ─ the former prime minister's wife ─ Dr Yasmin Rashid contested the election for PTI. The PPP had fielded Faisal Mir, the party's former Lahore chapter information secretary, as its candidate.
The competition between Kulsoom and Rashid was said to be close. In the 2013 General Election, Rashid had received 52,354 votes against Nawaz.
Polling in Lahore ended at 5pm on Sunday after it continued uninterrupted throughout the day.
Earlier in the day, long queues were seen outside the polling stations as people came out to cast their vote as early as 8am.
Hours after polling started, activists of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-N almost came to blows at Cooper Road, chanting slogans against each other. Activists dispersed, however, after law enforcement agencies warned political workers of baton charge.
The ECP had set up 220 polling stations — 103 for male voters, 98 for women and 19 joint polling stations for men and women voters. There were 321,786 voters, including 142,144 female voters. The ECP had delivered 350,000 ballot papers to the election staff.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, Biometric Voter Verification Machines were also being tested in the constituency. Some 30,000 voters cast their votes on biometric machines. More than 100 biometric machines were installed at 39 polling stations.
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