PML-N's Nosheen Iftikhar has won the high stakes Daska NA-75 by-poll, defeating PTI's Ali Asjad Malhi by 16,642 votes, according to official results issued by the District Returning Officer.
According to an official copy of the Form 47, available with DawnNewsTV, the PML-N candidate bagged 110,075 votes, while Malhi received 93,433 votes.
Polling began at 8am and continued uninterrupted till 5pm in the constituency, where a close contest was expected between the PTI and the PML-N.
After 5pm, only those voters who were inside the polling stations were allowed to cast their votes.
Other than the PML-N and the PTI, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) Khalil Sandhu was also in the run. He came in third with 8,268 votes.
Rangers were on patrol duty, ensuring the transportation of election staff and material, while army troops were stationed at the Daska Stadium and were available on call.
To make the conduct of the re-poll transparent, CCTV cameras had been installed at 47 sensitive polling stations, out of a total 360.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had decided that the presiding officers will sign the Form 45 (final results) inside the polling stations in the presence of polling agents of the respective candidates before they leave the premises, while no political figure was allowed to meet the RO while receiving the election results.
The NA-75 seat fell vacant after the death of PML-N MNA Syed Iftikharul Hassan alias Zahry Shah in August 2020. The by-poll was delayed for six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Today's polling is the second time in less than two months that the constituents of NA-75 Daska are voting to elect an MNA. Last time, the ECP had withheld the results of the Feb 19 by-poll due to violence, rigging and the disappearance of over 20 presiding officers and ordered a re-election in the entire constituency. The order was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
'Daska has been given another chance'
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had said on Friday that all eyes will be on Daska as the people of the constituency will be representing the sentiments of the country's 220 million-strong population.
"The people of Daska have been given another chance to exact revenge from the vote stealing government, which has snatched bread from the people's mouth while also taking away development from Pakistan," she said.
The government's fears will prove to be true, she said, adding that the people of the constituency will cast their vote in order to avenge the deaths of those killed on Feb 19.
She said voters will demonstrate their lack of confidence in the current government by casting their vote, adding that incompetent governance had endangered the country's security.
"Daska will expose those who made false promises and have taken the country thirty years back in the span of three," she said.
MAryam had gone on to say that the people of Daska will not only guard the sanctity of the vote but will also protect polling staff.
PML-N submits application to CEC
A day before polling, Nosheen Iftikhar, the PML-N candidate, had submitted an application to the chief election commissioner, alleging that certain presiding officers had been tasked by her opponents with casting additional/bogus votes in about 100 polling stations.
She requested for foolproof arrangements to ensure that no bogus votes were cast and that a mechanism be put in place to tally counterfoils with the number of votes cast and to check whether the counterfoils contain authentic and verified particulars of voters.
She also sought deputation of polling officers at each polling station by the ECP to keep a check on presiding officers.
The returning officer responded that the candidate should specify the names of the presiding officers along with their polling station numbers, and tangible evidence as no [preventive] action may be taken on mere speculations and apprehensions.
In another application, she invited the attention of election authorities, claiming that CCTVs were not being installed on all main roads in Daska and feared that the lack of monitoring equipment may encourage violence.
The returning officer told the candidate that surveillance cameras had been installed in accordance with the SOPs (standard operating procedures) at all the polling stations declared highly sensitive by the district returning officer to record poll proceedings, vote counting process and preparation of results by the presiding officers.
'Level playing ground'
Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, while addressing a press conference after polling ended, said the prime minister had given instructions to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to ensure a "level playing ground" in the Daska by-polls.
Awan said the media had shown through its cameras today that polls were conducted in a smooth and peaceful manner, adding that the administration had complied with the instructions of the ECP in letter and spirit.
She said it was the PML-N's old habit to never accept the results when they lose and urged both sides to accept the results of the re-election whatever the outcome may be.