PML-N’s Kulsoom Nawaz bags 61,254 votes in nail-biting contest; PTI’s Dr Yasmin obtains 47,066 votes to come in second
Maryam Nawaz says ‘people’s verdict has overruled judgement delivered in Panama Papers case’
LAHORE: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) retained Lahore’s NA-120 constituency in an epic, nail-biting election on Sunday, but also saw its victory margin – the crucial factor – erode by approximately 64pc (39,312 vs 14,188 votes according to unofficial results) from the 2013 general election.
According to the unofficial results, PML-N’s Kulsoom Nawaz bagged 61,254 votes while PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid scored 47,066 votes to come in second. Yaqoob Sheikh, an independent candidate backed by Milli Muslim League (MML), stood third with a little over 4,000 votes, while PPP’s Faisal Mir was fourth with approximately 2,500 votes.
Claiming victory just as the last results were coming out, Maryam Nawaz said the victory implied people’s rejection of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court on July 28.
“I congratulate you PML-N tigers,” she said, while speaking to PML-N supporters after the victory. “Nawaz Sharif called me, your mother called me before arriving here, and asked me to thank people of the constituency.”
Maryam claimed that although several voters of PML-N were turned away from polling stations, the people of the constituency had expressed their affection for Nawaz Sharif by voting for the PML-N.
“Promise me that you will stand with Nawaz Sharif in protecting the sanctity of the vote,” she said to her party workers, adding that people’s verdict had overruled the judgement against the former prime minister.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also sent a message of appreciation to the constituency for keeping their faith in PML-N.
The former PM said that Maryam had led a successful election campaign in NA-120.
“However, we have received complaints of irregularities in the election which we will take up with ECP,” he added.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Begum Kulsoom Nawaz on the victory, while wishing her a quick recovery.
Yet the much-reduced victory margin, in the final analysis, signifies deep PTI ingress into PML-N’s political heartland, and a tough road to the general election for the ruling party.
Speaking to reporters earlier, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “Even if the end result comes against us, it will be considered a win for PTI since it is the PML-N’s home and we gave them a tough time in their home constituency.”
The voting, held under army supervision, was completed without incident – barring the odd scuffle — yet the election itself was not entirely without controversy.
PTI candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid has promised to take ECP to court over alleged registration of 29,000 bogus votes in the constituency.
“We have reservations against the election commission and will approach the court against them,” she told reporters as the votes were being counted. She had earlier promised to move court over the matter regardless of the result.
CONTRARY TO TREND:
The voting, contrary to the trend in by-elections, saw an unusually large public turnout, which followed weeks of relentless campaigning, chiefly by PML-N and PTI.
The vote was being seen as the litmus test of Nawaz Sharif’s credibility as he faces Supreme Court disqualification and corruption cases, which is seen as a major political victory for PTI ahead of next year’s general election.
Since incumbents generally win by-elections with increased margins, it has been implied since the election was announced that a reduced margin would spell trouble for PML-N’s election plans. It means PTI’s narrative of the ruling family’s corruption, and the verdict of the Panama Papers, is resonating with an increasing percentage of the electorate.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared the experiment of using biometric machines as successful. According to initial reports, 88 percent of the thumb impressions were verified by these machines while 12pc could not be recognised.
Voters were reported to be excited by the use of biometric machines. One hundred machines were used in 39 polling stations and the detailed reports of the pilot project will be forwarded to the higher officials.
ECP printed 350,000 ballot papers for the constituency’s 321,786 registered voters.
All polling stations in the constituency were declared sensitive, with police, rangers and army personnel providing security.
Polling for the by-election in NA-120 concluded at 5pm on Sunday in the constituency’s 220 polling stations.