Polling faces another video controversy
The by-election for the National Assembly constituency NA-133 in Lahore was held on Sunday and Shaista Pervaiz Malik from the Pakistan Muslim Leagues Nawaz (PMLN) has emerged as a winner.
Shaista is the widow of Muhammad Pervaiz Malik who passed away in October this year. The NA-133 fell vacant after his death.
The polling faced a minor controversy when at least one voter was able to smuggle his mobile phone inside the polling booth. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), meanwhile, has made claims about low turnout.
The election, however, remained largely peaceful and no major violence was reported. Outside some polling stations political activists raised slogans against each other, but stopped short of full blown fights.
The vote count began immediately after the polling ended and results began to pour in by 6pm.
According to unofficial results, PMLN's Shaista Pervaiz Malik secured 46,811 votes and emerged as the winner. The runner-up was Aslam Gill from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) who secured 32,313 votes.
The contest was between these two candidates. Independent candidate Habibullah secured only 650 votes.
Polling was held at 254 polling stations from 8am to 5pm. When the entry gates were closed after the designated time ended there were still some voters inside the polling stations.
The constituency is considered a PMLN stronghold, but on the eve of election the PPP claimed its powerful electioneering would lead to an electoral upset.
The ruling Pakistan PTI was ousted from the electoral exercise after its candidate and the covering candidate had their nomination papers rejected.
After the polling began Sunday morning, a video surfaced on social media showing a voter recording how he used his right to vote. The voter, using his mobile phone, recorded a video as he placed the voting stamp over the PPP symbol of arrow. The voter also makes a thumps up sign after that.
PMLN's Azma Bokhari shared the video on Twitter and urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take notice. She questioned how a voter was allowed to take his mobile phone inside the voting booth.
The Returning Officer ordered a probe instructing officials to identify the voter on the video and arrest him.
Last week, another video controversy surrounded the NA-133 by-election after videos surfaced showing alleged PMLN workers bribing women voters.
Meanwhile, the turnout at some of the polling stations was reported to be low. This led to Shahbaz Gill claiming that the PTI had successfully persuaded its voters to stay at home after its candidate was ousted from the contest.
PTI's Ejaz Chaudhry had actively campaigned to ensure a low turnout after his party was ousted from the contest.
The turnout was recorded 18.59% which is considerably lower than the turnout of 2018 general elections that stood at 57%.
However, a low turnout for by-polls is not unusual. In May 2021 by-election for NA-249 Karachi the turnout was about 18%.
The PMLN activists went into celebratory mood before the final results were declared.
Earlier, Lahore police shared videos showing policemen helping differently-abled voters to reach polling stations.