Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Barrister Sultan Mahmood Khan defeated the candidate of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Chaudhry Sohaib Saeed, in the by-polls held in LA-III in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday, according to unofficial results.
As per unofficial results of 119 polling stations in LA-III, Mirpur-3, Khan bagged 17,617 votes while Saeed clinched 14,819 votes.
While there here were 14 candidates on the ballot paper, the real competition was between the PTI and PML-N nominees. 59,494 voters were registered in the constituency as per the AJK Election Commission and out of them 27,004 were women but the voter turnout was low.
PML-N was supported by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) because both parties had an agreement that they would support the party that had clinched victory in the constituency in the general elections. Jamat-e-Islami (JI) had also supported PML-N in the polls.
Earlier, reports claimed that some activists of PPP had either refrained from supporting anyone or had put their weight behind PTI and PML-N too had to suspend the membership of a few leaders for supporting Mahmood.
One hundred and nineteen polling stations were set up, out of which 61 had been declared sensitive. According to police, over 2,700 police personnel perform their duty into eight zones and 20 sectors of the constituency to maintain law and order.
With Mahmood’s victory in the by-poll, the strength of PTI in the 49-member AJK legislature has risen to three. The other two PTI lawmakers were elected in the general elections from the constituencies of Pakistan-based Kashmiri refugees.
Among the other opposition parties in AJK, PPP and Muslim Conference have four and three lawmakers respectively, while Jammu Kashmir People’s Party has one and one is an independent lawmaker. The ruling PML-N has 35 and its ally JI has two lawmakers.
The seat became vacant after the AJK Supreme Court disqualified PML-N lawmaker and cabinet member Chaudhry Muhammad Saeed after a Mirpur resident filed a complaint, alleging that he had encroached upon the state land which “amounted to contempt of a previous apex court judgment.” Despite his unconditional apology, the court sent him packing.
PML-N candidate who contested the election today is Saeed’s son, who came face to face with a veteran politician on Sunday.