NA-122 has suddenly come to symbolise electoral confrontations and animosities of the day – far beyond its political jurisdiction – but it was not always so. If history is anything to go by, it has been a pretty straight forward story for a while now.
But surely some things have changed. PTI is now the greatest and gravest threat to the N-league. And the way the campaign for this bye-election has built up, it has indeed become far bigger than the constituency itself.
Here’s a brief look at the goings on in this constituency for the last few elections.
Pakistan allegedly returned to democracy with the 2002 general election, which was held under the government of then President General Pervez Musharraf.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N won NA-122 by 37,531, defeating Imran Khan, who got 18,638 votes
The 2007 general election was delayed because President Musharraf enacted a state of emergency. This was followed by Benazir Bhutto’s death which pushed the elections which to February 18, 2008.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N yet again won in NA-122 with 67,000 votes, followed by PPP’s Mian Muhammad Misbah-ur-Rehman, who bagged 24,000 votes.
PPP won the general elections on the whole.
Held on May 11, these elections marked a turning point in Pakistan’s history. It was the first civilised transfer of power followed by a successful five-year term of the PPP government.
The elections were conducted in 272 constituencies, further 70 seats were awarded to parties having been reserved for women and minority groups; none of the competing parties achieved the 172 seats needed for an overall majority, but PML-N won the assembly.
It was during these elections that PTI stood out and became an important contender in the race.
Sardar Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N yet again won in NA-122 with 93,389 votes, followed Imran Khan of PTI with 84,417 votes.
Many irregularities were found in the results which came to notice after Imran Khan demanded recounts and verification.
NA-122 was among the four controversial constituencies — the other three being NA-110 (Sialkot), NA-125 (Lahore) and NA-154 (Lodhran) — where PTI demanded verification of voters’ thumbprints.
The election tribunal on 8 December 2014 ordered recounting of votes in NA-122 on a plea filed by Imran Khan.
Ayaz Sadiq challenged the election tribunal’s verdict of the NA-122 case in Lahore High Court on 15 December 2014 and filed a contempt of court petition against tribunal’s judge Kazim Malik.
3 January 2015 – recounting of votes completed.
5 January 2015 — 735 votes were rejected for Ayaz whereas 114 were added after the verification and Imran Khan’s 849 votes got rejected, decreasing his vote count.
12 January 2015 – Election commission Pakistan (ECP) submitted an inquiry report were Ayaz Sadiq secured 93,393 votes in the general elections in 2013 whereas Imran Khan bagged 83,542 votes.
The report also included that 15 vote bags were not closed as stated by the rules and ten vote bags were not sealed.
28 January 2015— Khan files petition against the inquiry commission probing the rigging evidence
14 Feb 2015 –ECP accepts Imran’s request to send reports to NADRA for forensic testing
During May 2015 – the forensic report was sent to the tribunal by NADRA which consisted of 781 pages. NADRA declared a high level of irregularities were found.
184,151 votes were verified out of which 73,478 thumbprints were verified. 93,582 votes couldn’t we verified.
570 voters were not registered in the constituency, while there were no thumb impressions on 1715 counterfoils of the ballot papers.
6,123 votes were cast on bogus national identity cards and 255 votes were on duplicate cards.
16 June 2015 – both the parties presented their ending arguments before the Election Tribunal Judge.
22 Aug 2015 – Ayaz Sadiq challenges the verdict of the election tribunal which declared his victory in NA-122 as null and void, in the Supreme Court.
24 Aug 2015 – Imran demands the resignation of NADRA chairman and ECP members for hiding rigging results.
25 Aug 2015 – ECP decided not to respond to Imrans demands as it’s a constitutional institution and is not answerable to any party.
27 Aug 2015 – PML-N to challenge PTI in NA-122 and NA-154 by-elections instead of going to the apex court.
31 Aug 2015 – ECP announces schedule of by-elections in NA-122 Lahore and NA-154 Lodhran constituencies to be on October 11
20 Sep 2015 – Imran announces to run full-fledged election campaigns for the by-elections and to hold rally on October 4 in Lahore
1 Oct 2015 – ECP announces to install military assisted by Punjab Rangers and police outside the by-election polling stations.
ECP also served notices to Ayaz Sadiq and Aleem Khan for violating the code of conduct for by-polls.
After two years, one month, 17 days and 58 sessions, with the election tribunal the verdict still hangs in the bye-elections to be conducted on October 11.
These by-elections can be deemed as the deciding vote for the two parties. Where PML-N stands with Ayaz Sadiq again and has pitched in a lot of resources for the win.
Where PTI stand with Aleem Khan and the need to prove its rigging allegation as true while PML-N wants to prove otherwise; both the parties have made these bye-elections a matter of their pride and ego.
NA-122 has also overshadowed the Okara by-elections.
Originally Published in Pakistan Today