By Samiullah Randhawa and Iftikhar Alam
The NA-133 by-poll proved a seemingly successful venture for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) as compared to 2018 elections, though its candidate appears to have lost the contest in a one-to-one contest against its old rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
PPP’s candidate Chaudhry Aslam Gill, who received around 5500 votes in the 2018 General Elections in the same constituency, had bagged – at the time of filing of this report – in excess of 24,000 votes at around 70 percent of polling stations, according to unofficial results.
It was a low-turnout as per expectations. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan were out of the race, leaving the ground open for the PPP to show its strength in the provincial capital which remained the stronghold of Bhuttos in the past.
The PPP turned out to be the fifth largest party by votes in NA-133 in the 2018 elections, far behind the then nascent TLP.
The TLP could not field its candidate in the constituency due to a government ban on its political activities at the time of filing of the nomination papers.
PTI’s Jamshed Cheema was technically knocked out by the Election Commission of Pakistan and the courts respectively.
A total of 11 candidates contested the election in the constituency after its seat in the federal legislature fell vacant after the death of PML-N MNA Pervaiz Malik. Late Malik’s spouse, Shaista Malik, is the candidate of the biggest opposition party against PPP’s Aslam Gill.
The other nine persons of no political importance were independent candidates.
Polling started in a smooth way at 8:00 am and continued till 5:00 pm with no untoward event occurring in between. As per the instructions of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ballot papers and other boxes were handed over to presiding officers under the supervision of Rangers personnel. The city’s authorities had also established a control centre to monitor the polling process.
In the early hours, polling staff had to wait for voters. “Till 9:00 pm only two voters cast their vote at PWD Polling Station Wafaqi Colony Number 6,” a member of staff told the Minute Mirror.
A bit of a rush was witnessed at 11:00 am, which saw a gradual increase in Johar Town and Township after 2:00 pm.
Leaders of PML-N and PPP visited different polling stations to review the situation. Shaista’s son, MNA Ali Pervaiz Malik was leading her mother’s campaign.
Moreover, Lahore Mayor Col (R) Mubashar Javed, Salman Rafique, Ata Tarar, Khawaja Imran Nazir, and Azma Bukhari of the PML-N remained in the constituency throughout the day.
On the other hand, Aslam Gill, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Faisal Mir, Zulfiqar Badar (son of late Jahangir Badar) were the main PPP leaders who spent their day in the constituency.
The PPP established its election monitoring cell in the party’s Punjab secretariat in Model Town Lahore.
Shaista Pervaiz also filed a complaint of rigging with the ECP, stating that the polling staff at polling stations number 232, 233 and 234 were convincing voters to cast their vote for the PPP candidate.
The supporters of both parties displayed full enthusiasm and engaged in sloganeering in favour of their candidates. Special persons, elders and a bride and groom were also witnessed casting votes.
Tight security arrangements were made by the Rangers and police in the constituency, with no untoward incident being reported throughout the day.