NA-120: The public’s verdict awaited

Photo by Mohsin Raza

LAHORE: The NA-120 constituency on Sunday was the most happening place of Lahore as three most prominent political parties were in a race against each other.

Two of the contestants are registered voters of NA-120 while Dr Yasmin Rashid of PTI, is not a resident of the area. It is assumed by many on ground that people belonging to the constituency have better chances of taking the lead as compared to outsiders.

Today’s by-polls in NA-120 were result of Supreme Court disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Case.

A tough competition was expected in NA 120 by-polls as Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf locked horns. Along with them candidates of Pakistan People’s Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Mili Muslim League (This party’s candidate was contesting as an independent candidate) were also contesting the elections.

As per reports, PML-N candidate Kalsoom Nawaz and PPP's Faisal Mir have their vote registered in NA 120. While PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid is not a registered voter of the constituency.

It is pertinent to mention here that in 2013 elections, Dr Yasmin Rashid was leading the NA-120 polls in evening but the next morning Nawaz Sharif turned out to be victorious. Later PTI had approached Election Commission of Pakistan claiming for recount of votes.

PTI MPA Sadia Sohail from Punjab said, “We are destined to win this election as Dr Yasmin Rashid has done door to door campaign. Even though Dr Yasmin is not a registered voter of NA-120 but she has been visiting the area since 2013.”

Regarding the conditions of this constituency she said, “Dr Yasmin Rashid did not have the funds to resolve issues. PML-N has not worked a bit in their area.”

PPP MPA Faiza Malik from Punjab said, “Faisal Mir being a registered voter of this area. His ancestors too belong to this constituency. Faisal has worked very hard and has been in touch with people on ground.

“PML-N has no chance of winning after the Supreme Court’s verdict. Maryam Nawaz may have conducted a good campaign for her mother but she can’t remove the black spot of corruption that Nawaz family has on itself,” said Faiza Malik.

MPA PML (N) Uzma Bukhari said, “We were forced to come in elections to get the public’s verdict. Only they have the power to get someone in or out of power. Our opponents have tried a lot to sideline us from the political scenario but they have been unsuccessful. They don’t realize PML-N and Nawaz Sharif lives in the hearts of people.”

MPA and TV actress Kanwal Numan of PML (N) said, “Booths of our opponents were empty, only PML-N has been busy the whole day. Even after the verdict of the court people have come out to vote for PML-N. These people love Nawaz Sharif so much that they don’t care what the court says they want to see him back. No doubt they have complaints regarding maintenance of the area but they have been voters of PML-N for generations.”

Regarding Maryam Nawaz’s campaign, “She did a wonderful campaign for Kalsoom Nawaz. Those who think that Maryam is trying to copy Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and first female prime Minister of Pakistan is wrong. She has her own standing.”

Any person eligible to contest elections to the National Assembly in Pakistan can do so from any area of the country, the candidates being a resident or voter of the constituency is not necessary; nor is a person barred from standing for elections from more than one constituency in the same elections. In the past many leading politicians have contested and won elections from multiple constituencies, and then vacated all seats except the one that is their pet constituency. So there is no bar on being a candidate from the same area where you are a resident of or registered as a voter.

 By-polls in NA-120 have taken place about nine months before the National Assembly were to complete their term and an interim setup would have been put in place to conduct the next general elections and ensure transition to the next assembly. This happens to be the third time that Nawaz Sharif has not been able to complete his tenure as prime minister.

Umaima Ahmed is a member  of staff

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