LAHORE: Amid a low voter turnout in the by-election in NA-148 Multan on Sunday, the PPP’s Syed Ali Qasim Gilani is likely to win against Barrister Taimur Altaf Mahay who contested the by-poll from the platform of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

According to initial results, Ali Qasim Gilani, the son of former prime minister and current Senate Chairman Yusuf Raza Gilani, had a lead over Barrister Taimur when this report was filed. A total of seven candidates participated in the by-poll.

According to unofficial results of 200 polling stations, Gilani had taken a clear lead with 61,393 votes over Barrister Taimur’s 38,191. The result of 75 polling stations was yet to be announced at the time of filing of this report. However, the Gilanis started celebrating their victory.

The experts shifted the blame of disappointing turnout to scorching heat and high temperature as the candidates struggled to bring the voters out of their homes to cast their votes though it was weekend. The maximum temperature in Multan was 44 on the polling day, according to the Met Office. At the polling stations, the people were seen searching for the shadow to escape from heat and the workers of the both parties were offering cold water to their voters. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not arrange water for the voters at the polling stations.

Ali Qasim Gilani’s win is likely; Barrister Taimur cries rigging

The polling process remained peaceful but some experts have termed the current political setup and conditions in the country for causing disillusionment among the public who lost interest in the voting process.

The by-election in the constituency was announced after the seat was vacated by Yusuf Raza Gilani as he was elected to head the Senate. The ECP set up 275 polling stations where the voters exercised their right to vote. The constituency consists of rural and urban areas but the rural areas are dominant over the urban areas. The PTI/SIC has more vote bank in the urban areas, which are less in number compared to the rural areas where the PPP has a hold.

If Ali Qasim Gilani wins this election, three sons of Yusuf Gilani would be MNAs in the current government while one is an MPA. The former PM himself is the Senate chairman.

The polling began at 8am and continued until 5pm. The by-election was generally peaceful, with no unpleasant incidents reported.

When the results started coming, Barrister Taimur Altaf was stopped by the administration from entering the central election office set up at the Multan Public School and he held a sit-in on the road with his supporters in response to the officials’ action.

Speaking to the media, the PTI leader and SIC candidate alleged that the excesses by the administration was proof of rigging. He said that just like the general election, the by-election was rigged and vowed to challenge it before the court.

On the other hand, Syed Ali Qasim Gilani thanked the people of the constituency and the administration for the peaceful election process.

Deputy Commissioner retired Capt Rizwan Qadeer said that no untoward incident happened during the whole polling process. He said the results of polling stations were sent to the main election office on time to ensure transparency and they would also be uploaded on the ECP website. He said that he had personally monitored the election process at different polling stations and all the arrangements were up to the mark.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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