PML-N regains Lahore parliamentary seat

Okara by-election won by an independent candidate.

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 9:25 AM

Islamabad: Former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq regained his seat from Lahore's NA122 in a hotly contested by-election beating Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's Aleem Khan, albeit with a narrow margin of less than 2,500 votes.
Ayaz secured 74,525 votes while Aleem Khan polled 72,082 while 4,230 votes were rejected. The turn out was about 51 per cent. The PTI, however, won provincial assembly seat in the same constituency.
In another by-poll for NA-144 (Okara) independent candidate Riazul Haq won by a huge margin securing 88,417 votes against nearest opponent Ali Arif of the PML-N who polled 45,199 votes while PTI's Ashraf Sohna who had switched over to the party from the Pakistan People's Party a couple of months ago, came a distant fourth securing a little over 7,000 votes. Haq was denied PML-N ticket.
It's the fourth consecutive win for the former National Assembly speaker since 2002, twice against PTI Chairman Imran Khan. Ayaz is a strong contender to regain his job as speaker - a post kept deliberately vacant by the PML-N, apparently hoping Ayaz would win.
The by-election resulted in ritual routing of the PPP. It was difficult to spot any election camp of PPP's candidate, Barrister Amer Hasan, or its flags and workers in the constituency.
While his party workers danced and shouted slogans late at midnight after the announcement of the results, Ayaz showed typical humility and thanked the voters and supporters for vindicating his position. He called upon Imran Khan to avoid negative politics and join the efforts for resolving massive problems faced by the people.
Hamza Shahbaz who led Ayaz's campaign, termed the victory as an endorsement by the people of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and rejection of 'dharna' politics of Imran Khan.
Imran tweeted calling the loss of PTI with narrow margin as "PTI's moral victory" and felicitated Aleem Khan for carrying out an excellent election campaign against heavy odds in the face of entire state machinery used by the federal and provincial governments to influence voters. He also greeted Shoaib Siddiqui over his victory. Imran said the party would learn lessons from the outcome and urged workers to focus on strengthening organisational structure of the party.
Senior party leaders Jehangir Tareen and Chaudhry Sarwar thanked the people for the support and criticised the Election Commission for ignoring all its complaints regarding poll rigging by the government. Chaudhry Sarwar said hundreds of voters were shifted to far off places shortly before election. He congratulated Ayaz over his victory.
The Election Commission expressed satisfaction that polling was peaceful and pointed out that the narrow PML-N win was evidence these were fair, impartial and transparent. It noted that no major complaint of irregularities was received from any party.
The by-poll in Lahore and Okara reflected a pathetic situation in which the PPP finds itself at present. Throughout it was not visible anywhere. In Lahore, PPP's Amir Khan got his security forfeited. He was able to hold a couple of small corner meetings.

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