ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the by-elections held on 10 National and provincial assembly seats as two candidates backed by it clinched seats that had been vacated by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party .
The remaining eight seats were retained by the parties which had won them in the 2008 general election, according to preliminary results.
Out of six National and four provincial assembly seats, the PPP was leading in four constituencies the PML-N in three while the Awami National Party, the PML-Functional and an independent candidate backed by PML-N won one seat each.
The ruling PPP lost one of its earlier National Assembly seats in Kasur that had been vacated by former foreign minister Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali and another in the Punjab Assembly from Attock.
Although polling was largely peaceful, a few incidents of aerial firing and manhandling of election staff took place in Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan and Mardan.
In Multan, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Syed Ali Musa Gilani was victorious on the seat (NA-148) which had been vacated by former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi after joining the Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI). The PTI stayed away from the by-elections. Mr Qureshi defeated PML-N’s Malik Abdul Ghaffar. The PML-N managed to regain its seat (NA-149) in Multan that had been vacated by former party stalwart Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, also after joining the PTI. PML-N’s Tariq Rasheed defeated PPP’s Malik Liaquat Dogar after a good fight.
In Vehari, PPP’s Natasha Daultana secured the National Assembly constituency, NA-168. The seat had fallen vacant due to the death of her brother, Azeem Daultana, in a road accident.
The ANP succeeded in retaining its National Assembly seat from Mardan (NA-9), where its candidate Hamayatullah Mayar won the by-elections. The seat fell vacant after Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti quit the party to join the PTI.
Similarly, the PML-F retained its National Assembly seat in Rahimyar Khan, southern Punjab, as its candidate Syed Mustafa Mehmood defeated nine independents. Resignation by Jahangir Tareen, who had won on PML–F ticket in 2008, to join the Tehrik-Insaf had rendered the seat vacant.
An independent candidate, Zahid Lakhvi, reportedly having the PML-N’s backing, won the National Assembly seat (NA-140) from Kasur after defeating another independent, Malik Rashid, in a photo finish. The difference was slightly over 200 votes.
MIRZA’S SON RISES: In Badin, Hasnain Mirza of the PPP won the provincial assembly (PS-57) seat that had been vacated by his father and former provincial home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza. The PPP also retained its provincial assembly seat from Tando Muhammad Khan (PS-53 Hyderabad-XI) where Waheeda Shah, the widow of former PPP MPA Mohsin Shah Bukhari, defeated 10 other independents in a one-sided contest.
The PML-N’s Adil Abdullah Rokhri has won the by-election held on Punjab Assembly seat (PP-44 Mianwali). The seat has fallen vacated after the death of Adil Rokhri’s father Amir Hayat Rokhri.
The PPP lost its earlier won Punjab Assembly seat from Attock (PP-18) when its candidate Malik Sameen Khan lost to the PML-N’s Malik Azam Khan. This seat fell vacant when PPP MPA Malik Khurram Ali resigned after joining the PTI.
Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), an independent group of poll observers, in its preliminary report has pointed out “restrictions by police and election officials on observation, errors in new electoral rolls, interference of police in electoral matters, incidents of violence and procedural irregularities underlining the relatively low turnout in the by-elections.Saturday’s electoral exercise, a year before the general elections are due, witnessed a low turnout that remained less than 30 percent as compared to general elections when turnout in these constituencies remained 43.3%, says the report.
WOMEN BARRED FROM VOTING: In Mardan and Mianwali, women were barred from voting at a number of polling stations. The turnout remained highest in Kasur at more than 50 per cent.
Incidents of violence were reported from more than 30 polling stations in all by-election constituencies. Firing, scuffles and brawls left more than eight persons injured in these incidents.
In one incident in Mardan, one of the election observers was shot in his neck by unidentified men as he was walking away from a polling station after observing the process. The observer has been hospitalized and is in stable condition.
Mohammad Hussain Khan from Hyderabad adds: Polling in Tando Mohammad Khan was marred by incidents of manhandling of polling staff by PPP’s Waheeda Shah and charges and counter charges of rigging. Her rival Mushtaq Ali Talpur alleged that Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar had also stamped ballots during his visits. Mr Qamar, however, termed the allegation as “simply absurd and ridiculous.”
The unpleasant incident, which was played repeatedly by TV channels, showing Waheeda Shah manhandling presiding officer Habiba Memon and another polling staff member Shagufta, took place at Govt Girls High School, Tando Mohammad Khan. Later, Ms Shah admitted that she had committed a mistake by slapping the presiding officer.
Hashim Bhurgari adds from Badin: Armed men were seen visiting various polling stations in Badin during the by-election on a provincial assembly seat. One man was injured when the supporters of two candidates clashed at a polling station.
The PML (Like-Minded) candidate Ali Bukhsh Shah accused election officials of committing rigging, saying that he had himself caught an assistant presiding officer while stamping ballots at a polling station at Khadho. He alleged that his agents were not allowed to enter polling stations by the PPP supporters. On the other hand, PPP’s Hasnain Mirza accused his rival Papu Shah of intimidating polling staff.
Jamal Hoti addsa from Mardan: Some incidents of aerial firing and verbal brawls were reported at some polling stations among the workers of ANP and the JUI but as a whole the by-polls remained peaceful. However, it was reported that a 24-year-old man identified as Yousaf was killed in Damaan village of Mohabatabad area during the celebratory firing by ANP activists after the announcement of elections results.