Voting has ended in Punjab’s Chakwal (PP-20) district for a by-election that may set the course in the district for the upcoming general elections The polling process remained largely peaceful amid stringent security arrangements.
Polling commenced at 8am and continued uninterrupted till 5pm. The counting of votes is currently underway.
Authorities barred media persons from entering polling stations after 10am and they were only allowed to enter briefly as voting concluded at 5 pm.
Nearly 12,000 police personnel were stationed across the district as part of the strict security arrangements for the by-polls in which nearly 279,530 people were expected to vote. Over 100,00 female voters were expected to cast their ballots.
Some 227 polling stations and 596 polling booths had been set up across the district. Rangers personnel were deployed at 45 polling stations that had been declared sensitive.
A PML-N stronghold?
The seat on which the elections were held had fallen vacant on Oct 30 with the death of PML-N MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali Khan, who had won seven elections since 1985. Since that year, the ruling PML-N has had a stronghold in the district.
However, it may not be as easy for the ruling party to win this election due to many reasons, the major among which are the disqualification of party chief Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, money laundering allegations and the controversial amendment in the Election Act 2017.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the archrival of the ruling party in Chakwal, had managed to secure the support of PPP and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). This means the PTI may be able to give the ruling party a tough competition in today’s by-polls.
Khan’s 32-year-old son, Chaudhry Sultan Haider Ali contested the by-elections today for the first time. The PTI’s candidate, Raja Tariq Mehmood Afzal, also contested for a provincial assembly seat for the first time but has been in politics for a long time.
There were three other contestants in the race ─ Chaudhry Nasir Abbas of the Tehreek-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and two local journalists Chaudhry Imran Qaiser Abbas and Mohammad Tufail.