The PML-N emerged victorious in a by-election held on a provincial assembly seat (PP-20) in Punjab's Chakwal district on Tuesday, unofficial and provisional results show.

According to unofficial results from all 227 polling stations, PML-N's Sultan Haider Ali Khan secured 75,934 votes as compared to the runner-up, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate Raja Tariq Mehmood Afzal who bagged 46,025 votes.

The PML-N candidate beat the PTI contestant by a margin of 29,909 votes.

Chaudhry Nasir Abbas of the Tehreek-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah stood third, with 16,576 votes.

"Today, the people's court has once again decided who is 'qualified' and who is 'disqualified'! All conspirators together could not defeat Muslim League (N) in the people's court," PML-N leader and daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year, wrote on Twitter after her party's victory in the by-election.

Voting ended at 5pm after a largely peaceful polling process for the PP-20 by-election that may set the course in the district for the upcoming general elections.

Counting of votes underway in PP-20.— DawnNews
Counting of votes underway in PP-20.— DawnNews

Polling commenced at 8am and continued uninterrupted till 5pm, after which the vote count commenced.

According to unofficial results, a total of 141,137 votes were polled in the by-election out of total 279,530 registered votes, with a voter turnout of 50.49 per cent. The number of valid votes polled stood at 139,308. Out of the total votes polled, 70,543 were male and 70,594 female.

Authorities barred media persons from entering polling stations after 10am and they were only allowed to enter briefly as voting concluded at 5 pm.

Nearly 12,000 police personnel were stationed across the district as part of the strict security arrangements for the by-poll.

Some 227 polling stations and 596 polling booths had been set up across the district. Rangers personnel were deployed at 45 polling stations that had been declared sensitive.

A PML-N stronghold?

The seat on which the elections were held had fallen vacant on Oct 30 with the death of PML-N MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali Khan, who had won seven elections since 1985. Since that year, the ruling PML-N has had a stronghold in the district.

It had appeared that it might not be as easy for the ruling party to win this election due to many reasons, the major among which are the disqualification of party chief Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, money laundering allegations and the controversial amendment in the Election Act 2017.

The PTI, the archrival of the ruling party in Chakwal, had managed to secure the support of PPP and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and was expected to give the ruling party a tough competition in today's by-poll.

Khan's 32-year-old son, Chaudhry Haider Ali contested the by-elections today for the first time. The PTI candidate, Afzal, also contested for a provincial assembly seat for the first time but has been in politics for a long time.

There were three other contestants in the race ─ Chaudhry Nasir Abbas of the Tehreek-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and two local journalists Chaudhry Imran Qaiser Abbas and Mohammad Tufail.

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