LODHRAN: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has pulled off a stunning upset victory against the favorite PTI in the by-election of NA-154, Lodhran, unofficial results show.
According to results received from all 338 polling stations, PML-N's Pir Iqbal Shah bagged 113, 230 vote with an overall lead of 27, 540 votes against PTI candidate Ali Khan Tareen who stood second with 85, 690 votes.
Tareen, son of disqualified MNA Jahangir Khan Tareen, was widely tipped to win the contest with a big margin.
An independent candidate backed by religious group Tehrik-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah is third in the race with 10, 227 votes while PPP candidate Ali Baig Mirza has secured 3, 181 votes.
Campaign done. Polling done.
Jaan lagaee hai, ab Allah ke haath mein hai... #NA154
— Ali Khan Tareen (@aliktareen) February 12, 2018
TV footage showed PML-N workers dancing and celebrating their party's likely victory against the formidable PTI.
According to our correspondent in Lodhran, Jahangir Khan Tareen, his son and PTI workers deserted their the main election camp and left for homes. On the other hand, the PML-N camp was buzzing with activities and celebrations.
Speaking to SAMAA, PML-N leader Abdul Rehman Kanju said that the result was not surprising. "We learnt a lesson from our last election's defeat so we prepared well this time," he said.
Imran Khan's spokesman Naeem ul Haq conceded defeat and congratulated the PML-N for their victory.
To a question, he said that nobody wanted to contest the by-election for only three months as the government's term was going to end in June.
ECP records 45 percent turn out
According to an ECP official, 45 percent registered voters exercised their right to vote in the National Assembly's constituency.
Abrar Ahmed Jatoi, district election commissioner, said that election was held in a peaceful and transparent manner. "Not a single complaint of rigging was received from anywhere in the constituency due to the presence of troops at polling stations," he said.
Mr Jatoi said that all departments worked together to ensure election was conducted in a transparent manner.
The PPP candidate, on the other hand, accused his rival parties of rigging.
Imran declines comments
PTI Chairman Imran Khan refused to comment on his party's possible defeat in Lodhran.
When asked if Ali Khan Tareen was going to lose, Imran Khan said that it was too early to say as complete result was not yet attained.
Speaking on SAMAA's show 'Nadeem Malik Live', PTI leader Arif Alvi said that he would congratulate the PML-N when result was officially released.
He, however, admitted that there was no complaint of rigging in the election.
Reham takes a jibe at PTI
Reham Khan, former wife of Imran Khan, took a jibe at the PTI over its lackluster performance in the election.
Sunna hai Pir jeet gaya?
— Reham Khan (@RehamKhan1) February 12, 2018
Maryam Nawaz also celebrated her party's victory by sharing a Holy Quran verse on Twitter.
نَصرٌ ِمنَ اللّہ و فتحٌ قریب ....
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) February 12, 2018
17:00: Vote count begins
14:46 pm: A bridegroom also casted his vote in the NA-154 Lodhran constituency. He said that he will leave for his wedding after exercising his right to vote in the by-election.
14.40 pm: PTI's Maula Jatt was mobbed by the masses while distributing food at a party camp during the by-election.
14.39 pm: PTI's Tareen said that his party's main competition is with Nawaz Sharif.
14.37 pm: Jahangir Tareen said that they are satisfied with the arrangements as military personnel is deployed on the polling stations.
14.37 pm: Jahangir Tareen said that rigging is the distinction mark of PML-N.
14.35 pm: PTI leader Jahangir Tareen said that his son Ali Tareen will defenitely emege victorious in the elections.
14:05 pm: Rigging is PML-N's old practice but since soldiers are stationed at polling booths, we are satisfied, he says.
14: 00 pm: "My son will be successful today InshAllah," he said.
14:00 pm: Jahangir Tareen speaks exclusively from a polling station at Lodhran to SAMAA TV
13: 10 pm: A control room has also been set up at DPO's office in Lodhran to monitor the situation: Police representative
13: 05 pm: DPO Lodhran claims foolproof security measures have been taken to ensure no untoward incident takes place
13:00 pm: DPO Lodhran Taimur Ali Khan inspects polling stations across the constituency to take stock of the security arrangements
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12: 50 pm: Jahangir Tareen takes a walk around NA-154 constituency, meets party workers and supporters
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- 12:45 pm: Ali Tareen meets PTI workers at a supporter's house over a cup of tea
- 12:30 pm: PML-N workers help themselves to some oranges
- 12:15 pm: Supporters of PTI and PML-N come face to face at a polling station and chant slogans against each other
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- 11:50 am: When the army decided to restore the sanctity of the armed forces, the bat won, she says
- 11:50 am: Firdous Ashiq Awan speaks to media personnel and says that PTI would not let anyone commit any wrong-doing and neither would the party indulge in any malpractice
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- 11:21 am: "People will not go in our cars and vote for PTI. PTI voters on the other hand would vote for us once they arrive at the polling booth," says Zubair Baloch
- 11:21 am: "PML-N workers are waiting on the roads. We will send cars to transport them to the polling stations where they will vote for us," he said.
- 11:21 am: "The odds are in our favour of 60-40 percent," he said.
- 11:20 am: Zubair Baloch, the son of PML-N MPA and former MNA Siddiq Baloch speaks to SAMAA TV
- 11:16 am: PTI and PML-N workers come face to face at polling station number 29
- 11:00 am: "The people of Lodhran are aware voters and they will not come under this trap," he said.
- 11:00 am: "They gave development funds and took part in every illegal activity to rig the polls beforehand," he alleged
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- 11:00 am: Jahangir Tareen also spoke to the press and said that PML-N had indulged in pre-poll rigging
- 10:30 am:"Neither did Imran Khan nor my father give me the ticket. PTI's local body held a meeting and chose me as their candidate", says Ali Tareen
- 10:30 am: "Everyone knows about the development work that I have done for the constituency," he says
- 10:30 am: "He who has the support of the masses wins the election," says Tareen
- 10:30 am: PTI's candidate Ali Tareen speaks to media personnel at Lodhran
- 10:00 am: PTI's Jahangir Tareen holds meeting with core team in Lodhran to discuss election strategy
- 09:00 am: PTI workers arrive at polling station to supervise activities under the leadership of Haleem Adil Sheikh
- 09:00 am: PTI workers from Sindh arrive at Lodhran to take part in election duties
- 09:00 am: PPP workers seems to be missing from their candidate's camp as mostly rickshaw drivers can be seen there
- 08: 30 am: Meanwhile, it seems as if PPP's candidate Mirza Muhammad Ali Baig could not muster enough support as his camp seems to be quiet
- 08: 30 am: "Will accept the outcome of the election regardless of win or loss," he says
- 08: 30 am: Pir Iqbal Shah, surrounded by party workers, will soon cast his vote
- 08: 30 am: PML-N's candidate Pir Iqbal Shah arrives at the polling station
All eyes are on Lodhran as PTI and PML-N will lock horns in the battle for NA-154. Polling for the election commenced at 08:00 am and will conclude at 05:00 pm.
A total of 10 candidates are contesting the by-election representing the PTI, PPP and PML-N.
Election supplies were handed out under the supervision of Pakistan Army earlier during the day and all preparations were completed.
As many as 431,000 registered voters in the constituency will exercise their right to use the ballot box and elect their representative. The total number of registered male voters in the constituency are 236,000 while female voters amount to 194,000.
As many as 338 polling stations and 1043 polling booths have been set up in the constituency for the important by-election.
Pakistan Army soldiers are stationed at the polling stations to ensure foolproof security.
Jahangir Tareen's disqualification
The seat fell vacant after PTI's Jahangir Khan Tareen was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on grounds of not being honest for indulging in insider trade.
Following his disqualification, PTI took the decision to nominate Ali Khan Tareen as the party's candidate for the NA-154 constituency.
The move turned out to be a controversial one as the party's leadership came under fire for deviating from its rigid stance against dynastic politics.
However, PTI chief Imran Khan had spoken highly of Ali Tareen and said that the Tareens were a brand in Lodhran hence Jahangir's son was appointed on merit.
"It is not dynastic politics--it is the politics of a constituency and whoever was the best candidate was awarded the ticket," he had said.