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September 18, 2017

Some facts about NA-120


September 18, 2017

LAHORE: Irrespective of the outcome, the bye-election on Lahore’s NA-120 seat is expected to be extremely gripping for political analysts and general public both.

This seat had fallen vacant following the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the orders of the Supreme Court on July 28, a decision that remained the same on Sept 15, when nine review petitions filed by the Sharif and company were thrown out by the apex court.

Since 1985, NA-120 has traditionally been a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – more particularly that of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family. Although there are 44 candidates contesting in NA-120, the toughest and most intense contest is expected between former first lady and PML-N leader Kulsoom Nawaz Sharif and PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid.

However, PPP’s Faisal Mir, was also seen carrying out a hectic door-to-door campaign during the last one month or so, contrary to the rather docile Jamaat-e-Islami stalwart Ziauddin Ansari, who was never seen delivering fiery speeches the way his eloquent party colleagues Hafiz Salman Butt, the late Syed Asad Gillani, Liaquat Baloch, Fareed Piracha and Ameerul Azeem etc., used to do between 1985 and 1990 to mesmerise the large crowds with their thumping slogans.

While Kulsoom Nawaz has already turned 67 in July this year, Yasmin Rashid will attain the same age on Sept 23. As many as 321,786 registered voters in NA-120 would exercise their right to franchise in today’s ballot exercise.

According to the data given by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 179,505 male and 142,128 female voters will cast vote at 568 polling booths (male 310 and female 258), set up in 220 polling stations.

The ECP will arrange 103 male, 98 female and 19 combined polling stations to facilitate voters. As many as 220 presiding officers, 568 assistant presiding officers and 568 polling officers will look after the polling process at the polling stations.

The August 2017 data of Election Commission of Pakistan revealed that 24,000 new votes have been registered in NA-120 since May 2013, when this constituency had a total of 295,826 registered voters.

The increase in the number of votes was recorded during the period after the elections till Dec 2016. From January 2017 to July 2017, only 65 new voters were registered. In 2002, this constituency was redrawn and parts of NA-95 and 96 were clubbed together to form NA-120.

For the first time in history, the Election Commission of Pakistan will be conducting biometric verification of the voters at 39 of the 220 polling stations in NA-120 as a pilot project. The May 2013 general elections had witnessed PTI pitching a strong opponent Dr Yasmin Rashid against none other than Nawaz Sharif.

Yasmin bagged 52,354 votes or 35 per cent of the total votes. The victor, Nawaz Sharif,had pocketed 91,683 votes, while PPP candidate Zubair Kardar could secure only 2,605 votes.

The total turnout of the voters in this historic constituency was 52 per cent in 2013. The otherwise favourite PML-N needs to particularly watch out for Provincial Assembly constituency, PP-140, which falls within the area because during the 2013 ballot exercise, the triumphant National Assembly candidate Nawaz Sharif could only receive a dismal 10,000-vote lead.

PML-N’s MPA Majid Zahoor had won from PP-140 in 2013, but somehow his hold and support here is weaker as compared to Begum Kulsoom’s nephew Bilal Yaseen, who had emerged victorious from PP-139, also part of NA-120.

Under Bilal Yaseen’s supervision, Nawaz Sharif had managed to secure a 30,000 plus lead in May 2013. Remember, Majid Zahoor has been part of Hamza Shahbaz Sharif’s close circles!

Past elections in NA-120:

During the party-less general elections of 1985, Nawaz Sharif had clinched the honours with an overwhelming majority both in the national and provincial assembly election. He had defeated Jamaat-e-Islami's Syed Asad Gillani (late) in the National Assembly contest, but had opted to retain the provincial assembly seat. The PPP had boycotted the 1985 polls though.

On April 9, 1985, he was sworn in as Punjab chief minister. As far as NA-95 is concerned, Nawaz Sharif had emerged victorious from the seat by defeating PPP’s Arif Iqbal Bhatti (late) in 1988, and why not!

He was brought up at Railway Road, went to Saint Anthony’s High School at Lawrence Road and graduated from Government College Lahore -- all falling in NA-120. It is noteworthy that former Lahore High Court judge, Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti, had been killed on Oct 17, 1997 for having acquitted two blasphemy accused on Feb 23, 1995.

In 1990, Nawaz had trampled all over PPP and Tehreek-e-Istaqlal’s joint candidate, Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan.

In 1993, he had defeated PPP’s Zia Bakht Butt (late) and Jamaat-e-Islami’s Hafiz Salman Butt.

In 1997, Nawaz Sharif had again won from the same seat against PPP’s Hafiz Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din.

Nawaz couldn’t contest the 2002 and 2008 general elections due to exile as well as conviction by the courts.

Dr Yasmin Rashid is daughter-in-law of former PPP education minister Malik Ghulam Nabi (late) and sister-in-law (brother’s wife) of Shahid Nabi Malik, who had lost against Ishaq Dar in 1993.

Though Shahid had moved court against Ishaq Dar, his long-time neighbour at Mozang Road, Justice Malik Qayyum, had ruled against him.

Yasmin was a professor and head of the Obstetrics & Gynaecology Department, King Edward Medical University, Lahore till 2010.

During the May 2013 elections, Dr Yasmin had secured 27, 941 votes more than PPP’s Jahengir Badr, who had won nod of 24,380 or 25.33% voters during the February 18, 2008 polls while contesting against the triumphant PML-N candidate Bilal Yaseen, who had pocketed 65,946 or 68.51% of the total votes polled.

Similarly, Nawaz Sharif (getting 91,683 or 60.57% votes polled) could only add 25,700 odd votes in 2013 to the tally of his party colleague Bilal Yaseen, who had obtained 65,946 votes in 2008, meaning thereby that the public support had increased for opposition parties between 2008 and 2013 in NA-120!

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