LAHORE: Begum Kulsoom Nawaz of PML-N on Sunday won the NA-120 by polls with 61,254 votes by defeating her opponent PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid who bagged 47,066 votes.
This contest, however, virtually took place between ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and his rival Imran Khan in the wake of former’s disqualification by the apex court on latter’s petition in the Panama Leaks case as MNA from NA-120. And in this context, Nawaz emerged victor.
According to unofficial results, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz clinched victory with a clear margin of 14,188 votes. Yaqoob Sheikh of Milli Muslim League remained on third slot while Faisal Mir of PPPP got fourth position. Ziauddin Ansari of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) received only 143 votes, according to unofficial results.
Around 115,820 voters exercised their right to vote out of total 321,786 registered voters in the constituency. The turnout was low on Sunday as only 36 percent voters polled their votes. Polling started at 8am across all 220 polling stations and concluded at 5pm.
PML-N workers at various polling stations complained that their polling agents were not allowed at every polling booth. Chief Polling Agent PMLN Kh Ahmed Hassaan took the issue up with the election commission and the matter was sorted by around 11:00 am.
As the polling gained pace, youth from PMLN, PPP, Milli Muslim League and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan rallied through the entire constituency on motorbikes and cars spurring on their staff at polling camps outside polling booths. This cheering and chanting also resulted in stand-offs between crowds of PMLN and PTI supporters who came face to face chanting slogans against each-other. Scuffles also broke out between PMLN and PTI supporters at the Fatima Jinnah Medical University polling station. Another incident was reported from Krishan Nagar.
A number of voters complained about their vote having been shifted to different constituencies. The complaints, however, were not exclusive to any single political party. Federal minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique requested Election Commission of Pakistan to extend the polling time saying the voters shouldn’t be deprived of their democratic right. He argued that due to Sunday, the voters woke up late and a large number of people had started coming out to vote later in the evening. They pleaded that the security protocols were very elaborate due to which it was taking unusual amount of time for a person to cast his or her ballot. However, PTI disputed this request saying there were no extraordinary circumstances or hold-ups to merit an extension in the polling time. The Election Commission turned down PML-N’s request and the polling stopped at 5:00 pm sharp.
As the results started pouring in, PTI’s Yasmin Rashid started gained a slight lead which sparked speculations of a major upset. Yasmin maintained her lead till the total counted votes were around 4000. However, as counting proceeded Kulsoom Nawaz started gaining a lead which quickly piled up to over 6000, and later concluded at the lead of 14,188 votes.
As many as 44 candidates were competing for NA-120 victory. However, surety bonds of 42 contestants were forfeited including PPPP’s candidate Faisal Mir who secured around 2000 votes and Qari Yaqoob Sheikh who secured 4,500 votes besides having support of unregistered political party Milli Muslim League.
The other candidates whose surety bonds have been forfeited include Aajasim Sharif, Arshad Mehmood Butt, Ameer Bahadur Khan Hoti, Inamullah Khan, Muhammad Khurram, Tayyab Jamil, Pervez Akhter Gujjar, Jawed Yousaf, CH Hasnain Gondal, Ch. Abid Hussain, Ch. Liaqat Abbas, Khalid Waleed, Mian Muhammad Nauman, Mirza Muhammad Ashraf, Rohi Bano Khokar, Sajida Mir, Sardar Michal Farusb, Sarfraz Qureshi, Sumaira Ali, Syed Muhammad Shakeel, Muhammad Waseem, Azhar Hussain Rizvi, Ziau Din Anasari Scale, Abdul Rehman, Irfan Khalid, Ata Muahmmad Qasur, Alama Mehar Ghulam Shabir, Qaisar Mahmood, Muhammad Ashfaq, Zubair Khan, Farooq Raja, Naveed Naswaz, Hadi Shah, Yaqoob Sheik, Munsif Awan, Laeequr Reham, Nasir Saleem, Nadeem Hafiz, Ambar Shahzada, Noor Naeem and Yasir Islam.
After the victory of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz celebrations among the PML-N workers erupted. The ECP in its code of conduct had warned party workers against gathering in large numbers after victory. This ban caused arrest of many political workers in the different parts of the constituency.
Meanwhile, talking to media in London, Nawaz Sharif claimed that key members of his party working for NA-120 election campaign were kidnapped overnight to stop them from galvanizing support for the PML-N candidate. The former PM was referring to the disappearance of some union council members and leading local campaigners who remained missing last night, according to several accounts. Nawaz Sharif said he received these reports overnight and he was assessing the situation.
When asked by this correspondent about the campaign run by Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz praised his daughter and said that she had run an effective campaign and the masses had responded to her message and warmly welcomed her. He said he was thankful and indebted to those who were supporting him in NA 120 and elsewhere.
Nawaz Sharif said during his six-hour long meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Zaid Hamid and Ishaq Dar, issues relating to national and international concerns were discussed.
Nawaz Sharif said he is in London for the treatment of his wife and informed that more surgeries of Kulsoom Nawaz have been planned in coming days.