PPP comes in second, with observers noting dismal turnout of less than 20 percent for Lahore seat
The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) on Sunday retained the NA-133 constituency according to unofficial results of its by-polls, with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) coming in second and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf sitting out the contest after its candidate was rejected on technical grounds.
PMLN’s Shaista Pervaiz Malik, the wife of late parliamentarian Pervaiz Malik, secured 46,811 votes against 32,313 for the PPP’s Chaudhry Aslam Gill. However, the voter turnout remained a dismal 18.59 percent, with only 80,022 voters of 440,845 registered turning out to vote.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, there were 11 candidates contesting the by-elections in the constituency, which fell vacant upon the death of Malik in October. The remaining candidates were either independents or belonged to minor parties that rarely attract much support. With the PTI’s ouster, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP)—the third largest group in the 2018 general elections—had been predicted to make gains, but it chose not to contest the polls, claiming it had not had sufficient time to prepare due to its long march on Islamabad. According to local media, the TLP “unofficially” lent its support to the PPP.
The ECP said that the polls were conducted on 254 polling stations, of which 34 had been declared “sensitive” and 21 “most sensitive.” In a bid to avoid any potential unrest, over 2,000 police personnel were deployed in addition to Punjab Rangers to ensure security for the polling, which lasted from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.
Initially, it had appeared the constituency would be a slam-dunk for the PMLN, but the PPP undertook a massive campaign to attract voters, with observers claiming this was part of an ongoing attempt by the party to revive its position in Punjab province. Political analysts have said that it is too soon to say that the PPP could prove a match for the PMLN and PTI in Punjab, noting that the party benefited from the complete absence of the PTI and the TLP, who offered their “unofficial” support to it in a bid to counter the PMLN, which they consider a more viable opponent for the next general elections.
While the polling was completed largely peacefully, there were fears of electoral rigging after videos went viral on social media purportedly showing both the PMLN and PPP offering cash handouts in exchange for votes. The ECP has taken notice of this and vowed to punish anyone found guilty of such rigging.