The voters in NA-120 have predicted high turnout in by-poll on Sunday (today). In a survey conducted by the Business Recorder, the voters were heavily divided in their support for the PML-N and PTI.
Those supporting the PPP were little in number. The presence of Jamaat-e-Islami, Milli Muslim League and Lubbaik Ya Rasulillah can easily be felt in the constituency, vying for hitting the vote base of PML-N.
Those supporting the PML-N said they would vote for this party for the development work it carried out in the constituency. They said nomination of Kulsoom Nawaz was another major factor of their sympathies for the PML-N. When asked about the number of votes likely to be cast in favour of Kulsoom, they said it would vary in between 80,000 to 100,000. It may be noted that Mariam Nawaz has been pursuing the voters to come out in a big number and vote for her mother.
Meanwhile, the residents of the area also pointed out that the PML-N was spending heavily in the constituency to win maximum support. They said a large number of the participants of Mariam’s rallies were hired by the local leadership of the constituency. Furthermore, they added that this factor can also work on the voting day.
The residents of Gowalmandi pointed out that the workers of Gogi Butt were not allowing the PTI supporters to display posters and banners in favour of Dr Yasmin Rashid. They further said that a few election offices of the PTI are also not allowed to play party songs on speakers. However, a good number of PTI speakers said they would express their anger by casting votes in favour of Yasmin Rashid on the Election Day. They said that the PTI voters and supporters were not strong enough to challenge the workers of Gogi Butt.
Meanwhile, the workers of Milli Muslim League said they were expecting thousands of votes in favour of Yaqoob Sheikh, an election nominee of the League. However, they agreed that a real contest is likely to take place between the PML-N and PTI. A few of them added that they were expecting a defeat for the PML-N.
The PPP had a very little say in the constituency, as the voters are predominantly divided in their support for the PML-N and PTI. They said the PPP had fielded a weak candidate. A few of them also pointed that party had replaced Zubair Kardar with Mir in the constituency despite the fact that Kardar was a resident of the constituency. Interestingly, the Awami National Party (ANP) has also fielded a candidate in the constituency, focusing on the Pathan voters living in a large number in some pockets of the constituency.
All is set to hold the by-election on the National Assembly constituency NA-120 (Lahore) on Sunday (today). The seat fell vacant after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court in Panama case. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought the help of Pakistan Army and other law-enforcing agencies for smooth conduct of election. The army personnel will be deployed in and outside every polling station to ensure fair and transparent election.
A spokesperson of Election Commission said the polling will start at 8am and continue till 5pm without any break. There are 321,633 registered voters including 179,505 male and 142,128 female voters in NA-120. A total of 220 Presiding officers, 568 Assistant Presiding Officers and 568 polling officers will perform their election duties. All necessary administrative and security measures have been finalized to hold free, fair and impartial by-election, he added.
The ECP has also set up a control room to register complaints pertaining to NA-120 by-poll. The transfer of required election material to the polling stations was made under the supervision of army personnel who also remained present at polling stations throughout Saturday night.
As per security plan, all the polling stations have been declared sensitive, which have been divided in 23 zones and 11 sectors. Over 5,000 police personnel will be deployed for the security of the polling stations accompanied with Dolphin and Pero Force personnel for the patrolling.
Although, 44 candidates are in the run from NA 120 but Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s nominated Kulsoom Nawaz, PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid and PPP nominated Faisal Mir are the major candidates. Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh, Allama Meher, Ghulam Shabbir, Arshad Mehmood, Sajida Mir, Dr Munsif Awan, Dr Mirza Muhammad Arshad Baig, Nadeem Hafiz, Noor Naeem and others are other contesting candidates.
Analysts said the NA-120 has traditionally been a stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-more particularly of Nawaz Sharif himself. However, over the years the PTI has emerged the second strongest political party in this constituency. Earlier it used to be PPP.
The Sharifs are holding the seat since 1985 as they have worked long and hard at knitting together a system of local influential figures and it is really an uphill task for their opponents to make a contest of it, they said. Kulsoom Nawaz’s opponent, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Yasmin Rashid has also worked hard to woo the voters. This constituency is comprised of the areas of Nisbat Road, Laxami Chowk, Mozang, Temple Road, Sant Nagar, Krishan Nagar, Mohni Road, Sanda, Anarkali, Beadon Road, Hall Road, Karim Park etc.
The sitting Commerce Minister Mohammad Pervez Malik had won this seat even in 2002 when the Sharifs were living in exile. In the 2013 elections, Nawaz Sharif had polled more than 91,600 ballots with Yasmin Rashid, a doctor by profession, getting 52,354 votes. Nawaz had won from this constituency thrice and his daughter Maryam Nawaz who spearheaded her mother’s election campaign is fully confident that the PML-N would emerge victorious with thumping majority on September 17.