LAHORE: Some PML-Q members began questioning the usefulness of their party’s electoral arrangement with the Pakistan People’s Party as the alliance could win only one out of six provincial and two National Assembly seats in the by-polls held in Punjab on Tuesday.
The PML-N won five provincial and one National Assembly seats, while an independent candidate backed by it, Khadim Hussain, won from PP-26, Jhelum.
Five of the seats had been vacated by the PML-N and one each by the PPP, PML-Q and its Unification Bloc when the Supreme Court ruled against those holding dual nationality.
The PPP suffered a setback by losing its seat, NA-162, Chichawatni, to the PML-N.
Both the PPP and PML-Q accused PML-N’s Punjab government of using state machinery and committing blatant violation of Election Commission’s code of conduct in Sahiwal, Gujrat and Gujranwala. Firing into the air and torture of rivals was also reported from some constituencies.
Punjab Chief Election Commissioner Raja Mahboob sought a report about the firing incidents that took place during the by-polls. “Action will be initiated against the culprits in the light of the report,” he said. The PML-Q Unification Bloc faced embarrassment after the father of its chief Dr Tahir Ali Javed, who had resigned because of dual nationality, was defeated by the party’s candidate. Despite securing PML-N’s ticket for PP-133, Narowal, Javed’s father Dr Naimat Ali remained third with 22,204 votes. PML-Q’s Omar Sharif got 29,300 and independent Maulana Ghiasuddin 23,000 votes.
Manzoor Wattoo, who recently got the PPP Punjab command, appeared to have failed in his first assignment as the party’s candidates suffered heavy defeats in the face of his tall claims that he would give a tough time to the PML-N in the province.
He even could not develop a good understanding with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, who head the ally PML-Q, ahead of the by-polls.
According to unofficial results, in NA-107, Gujrat-IV, PML-N’s Malik Hanif Awan secured over 100,000 votes, defeating PML-Q’s Naseer Rehman (76,000).
In the National Assembly constituency NA-162, Chichawatni, Shahiwal, PML-N’s Zahid Iqbal got 75,000 votes, defeating Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf-backed independent candidate Rai Nawaz (65,700). The PPP had won this seat in 2008.
Interestingly, PPP’s winner in the last election, Zahid Iqbal, who had quit the seat, had joined the PML-N after surrendering his foreign nationality.
Punjab PPP information secretary Raja Amir, contesting for the provincial assembly from PP-122, Sialkot, lost with a big margin to the PML-N’s Chaudhry Akram (27,291), getting only 5,135 votes. PML-N’s Mohsin Ashraf secured 35,000 votes to defeat the Q-League’s Ansar Iqbal (21,000) in PP-129, Sialkot. In PP-226, Kasowal, Sahiwal district, PML-N’s Hanif Jatt got 42,294 votes, defeating PML-Q’s Mrs Iqbal (24,000).
In PP-92, Gujranwala, PML-N’s Nawaz Chohan got 35,000 vote sand defeated PPP’s Lala Asad (12,000).
In PP-26, Jhelum, PML-N backed independent candidate Khadim Hussain got 39,000 votes, defeating another independent candidate, Raja Afzal, who got 22,000 votes.
While the PML-Q is feeling much relieved after snatching a provincial assembly seat from the N-League in Narowal and putting up a better show in Gujrat, the results set alarm bells ringing for the PPP for its candidates’ dismal performance.
A PML-Q leader told Dawn that some members had raised questions about the party’s alliance with the PPP after Tuesday’s by-elections.
“I think PPP’s supporters are not ready to vote for PML’s candidates and the same is the case with the latter,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Adviser Fawwad Chaudhry alleged that the PML-N that used state machinery that had helped it secured most seats. “Police harassed our voters and it was one of the reasons behind the loss with a heavy margin,” he added.
PML-Q’s information secretary Senator Kamil Ali Agha also accused the Punjab government of having used the state machinery and resources to rig the elections.
SINDH PA ELECTION: According to unofficial results, a PPP candidate won by-poll to a Sindh Assembly seat in Naushahro Feroze.
Syed Sarfaraz Ali Shah bagged 34,600 votes out of a total of 119,884 while the NPP’s Syed Abrar Shah got 26215.