By-polls: PTI recaptures 6 NA seats and adds 2 more in Punjab, according to unconfirmed and unofficial results
The PTI recaptured six of its eight National Assembly seats and grabbed another two in Punjab Assembly in by-polls held on Sunday, according to unconfirmed and unofficial results.
Despite claiming a lion's share of the seats, the party also lost two of the NA seats — NA-157 Multan-IV and NA-237 Malir-II —that it had won in 2018. Its defeat on both the seats came at the hands of PPP.
The constituencies where the PTI has won were NA-22 Mardan, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-108 Faisalabad-VIII, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, NA-239-Korangi PP-209 Khanewal and PP-241 Bahawalnagar.
The PML-N got just one of the dozen seats up for grabs, winning PP-139 Sheikhupura-V, which was its own seat.
- Unofficial and unconfirmed results show PTI won 6 NA and 2 PA seats; PPP clinched 2 NA seats while PML-N triumphed on just 1 PA seat
- Imran says he's contesting against PDM, ECP and "namaloom afraad"
- ECP rejects Imran Khan's claims as "baseless and misleading"
- Workers of PTI and ANP clash in Peshawar polling station; one injured, two taken into custody
- Rana Sanaullah issued notice by Punjab election commission for code of conduct violation in Faisalabad
- PTI claims PPP "goons" attacked MPA Bilal Ghaffar in Karachi; police say it was a personal dispute
- PPP's Saeed Ghani says PTI losing and making excuses
- PPP's Sharjeel posts video and claims PTI worker threatening election official in Karachi
- Three arrested in Sheikhupura for allegedly possessing weapons
The by-polls, held on eight National Assembly and three Punjab Assembly seats, saw a largely peaceful polling process, which was marred by reports of clashes between PTI and ANP workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI's claims of its lawmaker being "attacked" in Karachi as well as allegation of rigging by a polling official.
While the PTI won the bulk of the sears, it did get beaten by PPP in NA-157 Multan, where Ali Musa Gilani, son of former prime minister Senator Yousuf Raza Gilani, triumphed over Meher Bano Qureshi, daughter of PTI leader and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PML-N, on the other hand, triumphed in just one constituency, PP-139 Sheikhupura, according to unofficial and unconfirmed results.
One more chance for decision makers to realise their mistake
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said that the direction of the election results was "another chance for the decision makers to realise their mistake and take Pakistan towards a new election."
As the midnight approached, Umar spoke to the media in Islamabad and said that it would be "better" if the decision makers pay attention to the nation's will, following which "there would be no need for a long march".
Regarding the PTI defeat on Multan seat, he said the party would analyse the reasons but also alleged that the PPP had "bought the loyalties in the constituency".
As the NA-31 results started pouring in, PTI party workers at a sub-election camp in Peshawar began premature celebrations and allegedly opened aerial firing. A police team arrived at the scene and attempted to make arrests, leading to clashes with PTI workers.
ANP's losing candidate in the constituency, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, refused to accept the results, accusing the provincial government of "injustice" against him and said he would approach the ECP and high court.
ECP takes notice of alleged rigging in NA-237
The provincial election commissioner took notice of alleged rigging at NA-237's polling station 108. The incident came to light when a video, purportedly of Presiding Officer Mazhar Bhatti emerged where in he said that at around 2pm, some unidentified people barged into the polling station, snatched ballot papers and started stamping them.
Subsequently, the provincial election commissioner summoned a report from NA-237's returning officer and district returning officer. He said that fake votes cast in the NA-237 by-poll would not be counted.
PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman accused the PPP of being behind the alleged rigging.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon accused the PTI of "blatantly" violating the ECP code of conduct and causing hooliganism at various polling stations.
"These people tried to create chaos and threatened innocent voters in a bid to influence them. The polling staff were harassed with large processions of vehicles, but no one took notice of open violations of the ECP code of conduct," Memon said.
The polling process started at 8am and culminated at 5pm. The media, as per the guidelines provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), was told to report on results only after 6pm.
The by-elections were held for three seats each of the national and provincial assembly in Faisalabad, Nankana Sahib and Multan in Punjab; three NA seats in Charsadda, Peshawar and Mardan in KP; and two NA seats in Sindh's Korangi and Malir.
It is unprecedented in the country’s political history that one candidate, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, is running for as many as seven NA seats out of eight up for grabs.
As polling commenced, Imran tweeted that he was contesting against "all of PDM, the Election Commission and 'namaloom afraad'".
After braving broadsides from the PTI leadership throughout the day, the ECP, in a statement issued in the afternoon, said the statements of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Omar Ayub, Farrukh Habib and others are "completely baseless and misleading and have no relation to reality".
"The ECP is determined to conduct free, fair and impartial elections, and so far, with the blessings of God, it is what is happening.
"If anyone tries to influence the election process, he will be dealt with strictly according to the Constitution and law."
A total of 101 candidates from different political parties and independents are taking part in the vote: 52 in Punjab, 33 in Sindh and 16 in KP. Around 4.472 million voters are registered in these constituencies.
The ECP said in a statement that it has passed "strict instructions" to provincial election commissioners to ensure the immediate arrest of anyone that tries to influence the polling process.
And if any government official was found involved in election rigging, not only should that person be arrested immediately and legal procedures be followed, but that matter should be referred to the ECP for disciplinary action, it added.
In a later statement, the ECP said its control rooms are "operating 24 hours a day" at the Islamabad Secretariat, and on the provincial and district levels.
The control room can be contacted at 051-8848888 and 051-9204403 regarding any election-related complaint.
Polling in Karachi was marred by violence as PTI leader Ali Zaidi posted a video showing the party's Karachi president, MPA Bilal Ghaffar, with a bandaged head. In the video, he alleged he was pushed and then set upon by "10-15 people", who attacked him with "bricks" in the city's Malir area by PPP workers.
He also alleged the police present there did not respond when he called for help. He also alleged PPP MPA Saleem Baloch was "the first one who attacked" him.
Zaidi, too, alleged the attacker was "PPP MPA Saleem Baloch and Salman Murad". He said retired judge Rana Zaki Shamsi, a member of PTI was with Ghaffar, and he was also physically assaulted & attacked. "They fear defeat & are restoring to violence," he added.
PTI's Imran Ismail condemned the incident said the PPP were attacking opponents as "they are fearing their defeat".
PPP's Saeed Ghani responded to the claims later.
"Bilal Ghaffar, fearing the certain defeat of Imran Niazi in NA-237, tried to spoil the situation," Ghani said in a statement, adding that "bullying and intimidation are the hallmarks of PTI".
"Saleem Baloch reached the polling station after receiving information about Bilal Ghaffar's hooliganism," Ghani said."The ECP must immediately take notice of the violence demonstrated by the PTI," he demanded.
The PPP leader said Imran's team was now making excuses for their "face-saving" to divert attention from people's "lack of support for them".
Meanwhile, Malir police, in a statement, said Ghaffar sustained an injury during a clash at Ghazi School over a "personal dispute" and was shifted to a nearby hospital. It said that further investigation was underway.
Action sought against 'unauthorised persons' at Karachi polling station
Sindh election commission took notice of media reports about the presence of some people belonging to special police (SPL) branch at polling station no.63 in NA-237, Malir.
Some TV channels aired footage showing SPL officers inside the polling station in violation of the ECP conduct.
"The presence of any unauthorised person in the polling station is not allowed and is violation of the election code of conduct," Sindh ECP official said in a letter to the provincial police chief.
He said an immediate necessary action must be taken against such unauthorised persons across the board and sought a report of the incident from the Sindh IGP.
He also ordered authorities to enhance security in both the constituencies of Karachi to maintain law and order situation.
Meanwhile, Sindh Information Minister and PPP leader Sharjeel Memon posted a video showing "Gohar Khatak PTI activist roaming in polling stations along with criminals and weapons".
In the video, a man wearing PTI colours around his neck can be seen speaking and gesturing aggressively to a man — seemingly an election official — in what appears to be a polling station.
"PTI MPAs and MNAs are illegally visiting every polling station and threatening presiding officers," he added. "ECP is not taking action of the illegal movement of PTI leaders?"
Earlier, turnout was reported to be low on a balmy Sunday. So low was the turnout, it seemed, that a policeman in Karachi's NA-237 constituency took the opportunity to take a nap.
Footage broadcast on television showed a policeman sleeping in what appeared to be a polling station, his head down on a bench as women voters sat on school benches while others queued up to cast their votes.
It is not clear which polling station it is.
A heavy contingent of Rangers was patrolling the various areas of the two NA constituencies of Karachi — NA-237 and NA-239, the Sindh Rangers said in a statement, adding that mobile patrols and motorcycle squads were deployed.
Model Colony, Saudabad, Khokhrapar, Malir Halt, Bakra Padi, Malir 15, Quaidabad and Manzil Pump, were the areas that the Rangers were patrolling, according to the statement.
The Karachi Police, meanwhile, said more than 7,000 personnel are performing security duties to ensure the polling process is peaceful.
"Rapid response teams of the police and Rangers have been deployed at sensitive polling stations to deal with any untoward incident," the statement added, urging the public to keep an eye on their surroundings and immediately report any suspicious or unusual activity to the police on helpline 15.
Meanwhile, television broadcast footage of ANP and PTI workers arguing and furiously chanting inside the Shaheed Hasanain School polling station in Peshawar.
Because of the hubbub, voting was paused for some time, and there were reports of a worker receiving a minor injury. ANP workers claimed that their opponents were trying to influence the election.
Dawn.com's correspondent at the scene confirmed that police had reached the polling station and took two workers into custody, following which voting resumed. It is not clear which party the workers belonged to at this point.
City Peshawar SP Abdul Salam Khalid told Dawn.com that the situation was "under control", adding that the police deployed more personnel than was required to ensure security.
"It's an election day and minor bickering will occur, but the issues have been resolved. We also involved local elders who assured police of their role in ensuring free and fair elections," he said.
Meanwhile, ANP's Samar Haroon Bilour posted a video of herself flashing a thumbs-up after voting. The video was later removed.
In Peshawar's NA-31 constituency, Returning Officer Saeed Ahmed said agents of political parties are at every booth and the counting process will also be done under their supervision.
"The election staff is bound to give the copy of Form 45 to the polling agent and Election Commission," Ahmed added.
PTI's Fawad Chaudhry, in a press conference in Nankana Sahib, claimed Imran Khan was winning "with a large margin" as he urged voters to get out and give a "befitting response" to US President Joe Biden, who remarked Pakistan has nuclear weapons but "without any cohesion".
The provincial election commission's spokesperson Huda Ali Gohar quoted the returning officer as saying an altercation occurred between political workers outside a polling station in PP-209 Khanewal. "Security personnel controlled the situation timely," Gohar said, adding that voting continued without interruption.
Gohar did not specify which parties were involved in the altercation.
In a separate statement, Gohar said the district monitoring officer for Faisalabad's NA-108 constituency issued a notice to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for violating the code of conduct.
"Rana Sanaullah participated in the door-to-door election campaign and corner meeting of candidate Abed Sher Ali," the statement said. Ali is the PML-N's candidate for the NA-108 Faisalabad-VIII constituency.
Sanaullah has been summoned for an explanation on October 16 by 10am.
The election official wrote to the Faisalabad deputy commissioner and City Police ordering them to "immediately evict" public officeholders from the constituency.
"No public office holder is allowed to enter the constituency till the completion of the election process," the district returning officer was quoted by Gohar as saying, warning disciplinary action for any government employee if they help office holders enter the boundaries of the constituency during polling.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media in Faisalabad after casting his vote, Sanaullah said that law enforcement agencies would perform their duties so the by-elections were held properly and the nation’s decision could be determined smoothly.
About the reports of armed men wandering in election areas, he said this was unacceptable and called upon authorities to take action against it.
In a separate statement, the ECP rejected the claims of PTI leader Farrukh Habib that the names of various voters had been missing from the voter list.
Earlier in the day, Habib had claimed that the voter list provided to polling agents at polling station no.162 in NA-108 had the names of several voters missing.
Responding to his accusations, the ECP said the election in the respective constituency was delayed due to insufficient security.
"Voter lists are compiled under a transparent and error-free process," the electoral watchdog insisted.
In another development, DPO Sheikhupura Faisal Mukhtar said three people were taken into custody in the PP-139 constituency after arms were recovered from their vehicle.
"The suspects were arrested [during snap checking] for violation of the election code of conduct while a case has also been registered against them," the senior officer said in a statement.
He said violations of the election code of conduct would not be tolerated.
Politicians urge people to get out and vote
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on people to "fully participate" in the by-elections. In a tweet, he urged people to make a "well-considered decision" because the "development and prosperity of you and your country depends on it".
PTI chairman Imran Khan, meanwhile, said "everyone must turn out to vote in all the constituencies where by-elections are being held today and characterised the polls as referendum. "This is a referendum for Haqiqi Azadi from the cabal of crooks. We are contesting against all of PDM, the Election Commission and 'namaloom afraad'."
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb urged people to come out and announce their decision against "fraud and lies of actual independence" through ballot.
In a tweet, she referred to PTI leaders, saying there were a "a group of conspirators", adding that the masses were already upset by their performance.
Ahead of the vote, PTI candidate for Multan's NA-157 constituency, Mehar Bano Qureshi, urged people to cast their vote with "responsibility" and also protect their ballot.
In a video message, Qureshi asked voters in NA-157 to inform a relevant polling agent if they encounter anything suspicious. "You have to make our kaptaan win."
PTI leader and former governor Sindh Imran Ismail urged voters to come out in large numbers and vote for Imran Khan.
In a tweet, he said it was a historic day that will determine the future of the nation.
PPP leader Sherry Rehman said Imran was "humiliating" his party leaders and voters by contesting from all NA seats himself in the by-polls.
"People should vote only for a candidate who can represent them in parliament and be their voice," she tweeted.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said earlier that a sufficient number of police and Rangers personnel would be deployed for maintaining law and order on the polling day.
A central control room has been established at the ECP head office in Islamabad which will monitor the voting process across the country.
In Punjab, 1,434 polling stations have been established, 979 in KP and 340 in Karachi. The election campaign concluded at midnight on Friday.
Imran Khan has been vigorously running the campaign of his party, while senior PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, who had led all previous by-election campaigns for her party, is presently in London to see her father Nawaz Sharif.
The NA seats were vacated after speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had, on July 28, accepted the resignations of PTI MNAs — nine on general seats and two on reserved seats for women — sparking controversy over the piecemeal acceptance of resignations.
The lawmakers whose resignations were ratified were part of more than 120 who had resigned from their NA seats en masse on April 11, two days after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted from the top office in a no-confidence vote.
The by-elections were originally scheduled to be held during September but were postponed by the ECP which cited the unavailability of security personnel in the wake of catastrophic floods across the country.
More to follow.