PTI edges out PML-N in keenly contested bypoll

Published July 29, 2021
This photo shows PTI candidate Chaudhry Ahsan Saleem Baryar. — Screenshot courtesy: PTI Twitter
This photo shows PTI candidate Chaudhry Ahsan Saleem Baryar. — Screenshot courtesy: PTI Twitter

SIALKOT: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) clinched the PP-38, Sialkot IV, seat by defeating the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in what turned out to be a major upset here on Wednesday.

PTI candidate Chaudhry Ahsan Saleem Baryar got 60,588 votes whereas PML-N ‘s Chaudhry Tariq Akhtar was polled 53,571 votes, according to unofficial results announced on Wednesday night. With the latest victory, the PTI has now two provincial assembly seats in Sialkot district out of the 11 Punjab Assembly seats.

There was a palpable sense of jubilation in the PTI and Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan, while speaking at the outhouse of the winning candidate, said a new face in politics had defeated the experienced politician in the bypoll.

All eyes were on the Sialkot by-election after the PTI victory in the recent AJK Legislative Assembly election. The PTI reposed trust in Ahsan Baryar for the all-important seat after the nomination papers of Qaisar Iqbal Baryar, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, were rejected by the returning officer due to his dual nationality. Ahsan Baryar is the son of Muhammad Saleem Baryar, provincial leader of the PML-Q. Ahsan claimed the PML-Q fully supported him and did not field its candidate paving the way for his success.

PTI worker caught stealing ballot papers; five held with arms

On the other hand, the bypoll has dealt a blow to Variyo family who have been doing politics for the last many decades.

The people of Sialkot keenly participated in the polling which was delayed at various polling stations due to heavy rain. Knee-deep water at various polling stations including the one at the Govt Elementary School, Dheera Sanda, caused a great deal of inconvenience to the polling staff as well as voters. The staff and locals wiped out the rainy water on their own.

Deputy Commissioner Tahir Farooq told journalists that Rangers and 3,000 policemen performed security duties at the 165 polling stations. Police caught PTI worker Nasir Mahmood stealing ballot papers and casting fake votes at the Govt Elementary School, Pathaanwal, polling station where the process was stopped for an hour. Police later sent the suspect behind the bars.

District Police Officer Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani said police had registered cases against five people for displaying arms at various polling stations. Officials recovered pistols and bullets from the suspects and sent them behind the bars, he said.

The charged workers of both PTI and PML-N clashed at a polling station where police and Rangers controlled the situation.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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