LAHORE: As the nation awaits with bated breath Lahore’s NA-120 by-election today (Sunday), the main contenders, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are all set to lock horns.
Kulsoom Nawaz of PML-N will take on PTI’s Dr Yasmin Rashid in what is being dubbed by political analysts as a “tough competition” between the two.
Political analysts say the ruling party is contesting to prove its narrative that the people of Pakistan have rejected the Supreme Court’s verdict of July 28 – deposition of Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister. While on the other hand, its main rival, PTI, has built its campaign over the ruling family’s corruption and disqualification of Sharif in the Panama Papers case, they added.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday completed all arrangements for holding by-election in NA-120 constituency and shifted election material to polling stations under the military’s supervision.
With 220 polling stations in the constituency declared sensitive and voting will start at 8am, army personnel were deployed a day ahead on Saturday to avoid any untoward incident.
Political parties have also given final shapes to their polling day plans. Duties have been assigned to party workers and supporters to bring people out of their homes to cast votes.
Though 44 candidates are standing for the vacated seat, the main competition is expected between Kulsoom and Yasmin. Political analysts would not rule out chances of an upset this time, because Sharif’s disqualification as the prime minister may have dismayed a good number of voters.
The NA-120 seat fell vacant after the disqualification of Sharif by the top court in the Panama Papers case on July 28. The constituency has remained a stronghold of the ruling PML-N since 1985, when Sharif won from there, but later chose to vacate the seat as he opted for the post of Punjab chief minister.
Sharif has won thrice from the same constituency. Earlier, the same area fell under NA-95, but in 2002 delimitation, various areas of NA-95 and NA-96 were clubbed together to form NA-120. Ruling party’s Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Pervaiz Malik won elections from this constituency during the Musharraf regime. And in 2008, Kulsoom’s nephew Bilal Yasin won the seat.
In 2013 general elections, Sharif was sent to the Prime Minister House by the voters of this constituency. However, PTI-backed Yasmin surprised them all by gaining 52,354 votes.
CCPO Lahore Amin Wains chaired a meeting of all senior police officers at Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines on Saturday regarding the security plan during the by-election. According to the plan, over 8,000 police officials will perform duties alongside officials of the Punjab Rangers, the Pakistan Army and other law-enforcement agencies.