UMERKOT: Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate Syed Ameer Ali Shah secured 55,904 votes to defeat his rival Grand Democratic Alliance candidate Arbab Ghulam Rahim by 24,983 votes as per the unofficial results of all 128 polling stations in the PS-52 Umerkot-II by-election held on Monday.

Arbab Rahim polled 30,921 votes, according to the unofficial results announced a little before midnight. The polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere at all polling stations except four in Allah Warayo Mahar, Hukum Singh and Bhojrajyo villages and Khosa Mohalla where clashes between PPP and GDA voters led to suspension of voting process for an hour.

Twelve persons, all of whom were said to be associated with PPP, were injured in the clashes. However, security personnel stepped in immediately to defuse the situation and restore the voting process.

The seat had fallen vacant after death of Syed Ali Mardan Shah of PPP, who was father of Syed Ameer Ali Shah. Mardan Shah had inflicted defeat on veteran politician Arbab Ghulam Rahim in general election by 20,000 votes.

Arbab, then and now, enjoyed support of GDA, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and local groups of Ghosia Jamaat, Hur Jamaat, Jeelani Jamaat, Sarhandi Jamaat, Qaumi Awami Tehreek, Arbab’s own Peoples Muslim League, Zulfiqar Mirza group, Jamaat-i-Islami and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

Sources in PPP said that party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would visit Umerkot on Jan 19 to participate in the first death anniversary of Syed Ali Mardan Shah and celebrations of imminent victory of his son Syed Ameer Ali Shah.

There were a total of 12 candidates in the race for the provincial seat but the real fight was between Ameer Shah and Arbab Rahim.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had ensured the polling was held in a free, fair and transparent manner by installing CCTV cameras in all highly sensitive polling stations.

The ECP had replaced 53 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers over complaints filed by Arbab Rahim who accused these officials of being lenient to his opponent.

Sources said that ECP had also sent eight officials from Islamabad to monitor the poll process.

As per ECP, 128 polling stations had been set up out of which 40 had been declared sensitive and 52 highly sensitive where the CCTV cameras had been installed to ensure transparency.

Heavy contingents of police along with Rangers personnel were deployed in and outside the polling stations to maintain peace and avert any untoward situation.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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