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Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party scores big win in bypolls

The PML-N won the bypolls to the parliamentary seat of Lodhran in Punjab province with a sizeable margin though party chief Nawaz Sharif had been unable to participate in the campaign.

world Updated: Feb 13, 2018 19:34 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
PML-N party,Imran Khan,Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party
Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif addresses a press conference in Islamabad on January 3, 2018.(AFP)

The ruling PML-N party has scored an emphatic victory in a by-election in a stronghold of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, the last such polls ahead of this year's general election.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won the bypolls to the parliamentary seat of Lodhran in Punjab province with a sizeable margin on Monday, even though party chief Nawaz Sharif had been unable to participate in the campaign as he was busy with public gatherings across the country.

The National Assembly seat fell vacant after former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen was disqualified for dishonesty by the Supreme Court in December last year.

The PML-N win suggests that the party’s vote bank in Punjab province is intact, analysts said. The PTI, in comparison, seems to be in disarray, they said.

The Lodhran by-election was a test case for the PTI, which had nominated Tareen’s son as its candidate. This caused much heartburn within the party, with many members openly criticising the decision.

"The party ticket was awarded on financial considerations and not merit," said analyst Mubashir Zaidi.

Celebrating the unexpected victory in the late hours of Monday, former premier Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted: “This is simply majestic & sets the stage for 2018 elections. MNS (Sharif’s) message has resonated with the masses. Opponents misjudged the situation. Alhamdolillah million times. We bow our heads before The Almighty in gratitude.”

Commenting on the defeat in the by-poll, PTI chief Imran Khan said every setback was an opportunity to learn from mistakes.

“It is a victory of the people who have rejected the politics of money and arrogance,” said elderly PML-N candidate Syed Iqbal Shah, adding the result had proved that people had rejected those who had attempted to buy out their conscience with money.

“I do not own planes or bungalows in Lahore...I am a down-to-earth person who loves to live among the people of our area. My only strength is the people with whom I will live and die,” he said.

First Published: Feb 13, 2018 19:34 IST