The by-elections for the seat of NA-133 Lahore concluded peacefully, as Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) succeeded to retain the seat in a constituency that has long been the party’s stronghold. After the rejection of the nomination papers of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI)’s candidate it was so predictable that Nawaz League’s Shaista was in a strong position to win the polls. But the major development in this contest was the votes which were cast in favour of the Pakistan People Party (PPP), which have surprised the political fraternity.
Sharp after the declaration of unofficial results, unlike other elections, which are mostly rejected by the opponents by alleging the winning party of rigging, the result was celebrated by all the major political parties including the ruling PTI which was not even part of the competition.
The celebrations for PML-N were obvious as Shaista Pervaiz Malik defeated PPP opponent Aslam Gill by a margin of 14,498 votes, by securing 46,811 votes. She succeeded her late husband Malik Pervaiz whose death left the NA-133 seat vacant. The PML-N has won the seat for the fourth time since 2008, although by a smaller margin this time around, as compared to when the party won it in the 2018 elections. The leadership of PML-N termed the victory as the defeat of mafias governing the country.
However, for the PPP the results were no different than a sign of relief. Because that was a massive jump up for them from racking in only 5,585 ballots from here in the 2018 general election. This is the reason that Asif Zardari declared the results as a new beginning of the PPP in Punjab. Zardari maintained that the Lahore by-elections have given a green signal to the party as it has taken a new birth in the by-poll which will lead to change in the province.
On the other hand, the leadership of the PTI questioned the turnout of the polls and stressed that their party was the player without which the field was deserted. Expressing his views on social networking site Twitter, PM’s aide Shehbaz Gill said with such a low voter turnout, it is clear that in a contest where (PM Imran) Khan’s party is not in the running, the public has no interest. The people have recognised these thieves for what they are.
Eventually, this is for the first time where all three big political parties are satisfied with their performances and also trying their best to justify the arguments.
Besides the celebrations of the victory or point scouring, there are two important things which are vital to be deliberated on and addressed. Firstly, though the polling was peaceful, we have witnessed open use of the money during the campaign. The Election Commission must carry out a thorough probe and take the case to a logical conclusion, otherwise, this will set a bad tradition of open rigging in the already crisis-hit electoral system. Secondly, the political parties must look into their policies and find out the reasons for such low turnout. The 18pc turnout is a serious question to ask and if not answered by the contesting parties, then it will, of course, go in favour of the PTI which was out of the contest.