PML-N, PTI in introspective mood after close contests

ISLAMABAD: The close contests in the by-election for NA-122 and PP-147 have prompted introspection in both major parties.


While the PML-N claims to have cemented its position and put a stop to the PTI’s “politics of protest”, the loss of a provincial assembly seat in the heart of Lahore — as well as the defeat of a candidate who is related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — has severely dented the myth of PML-N’s invincibility in the capital of Punjab.

The PTI too, while happy with the close contest it put up in Lahore and over the moon after stealing a provincial assembly seat from under the PML-N’s nose, is analysing its defeat in Okara.

For the ruling party, NA-122 had a lot of symbolic value and observers say it was imperative for the party to have National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq reclaim his constituency, albeit with a thin margin.

While both parties are claiming the moral high ground, in background discussions with MEDIA. both parties’ leaderships confessed they were perturbed with the overall outcome.

According to the PML-N media cell, in NA-122, both parties’ candidates received nearly the same percentage of votes as were polled in the 2013 general elections.

Then, PML-N secured 51.6 per cent against PTI’s 46.8 per cent. This time around, the ruling party bagged 50.6 per cent of the polled vote against the PTI’s 48.7 per cent.

PML-N worried by defeat on provincial seat in heart of Lahore; PTI examining decision to award ticket to Ashraf Sohna

Since the percentage of votes polled for both parties remained the same, the PML-N claims this was proof that the 2013 elections were not rigged.

A senior PML-N leader even quipped, “This time, there was no Iftikhar Chaudhry, no returning officers from the judiciary, no ‘35 punctures’, no Nadra and the process was [conducted] under the full protection of the Pakistan Army.”

At the same time, PML-N leaders claimed that the party’s defeats in PP-147 and NA-144 (Okara) confirmed that the by-elections were held fairly.

“Of course, it was a narrow escape for the government, because a lead of 2,000-odd votes wasn’t something the party leadership was expecting. Moreover, the defeat of a relative of the PM on the provincial seat has left many in the party shocked,” a PML-N MNA told MEDIA

In particular, the MNA said, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had taken that defeat as a blow to his reputation. “Although some in the party have accepted that perhaps Mohsin Latif wasn’t the right candidate, the damage has been done.”

PTI reaction

PTI chief Imran Khan gave his formal reaction to the election results on Monday. In a series of messages from his Twitter account, the PTI chief claimed moral victory and continued with his usual criticism of the government.

He congratulated PTI candidate Aleem Khan for his hard work and persistence against the “PML-N governmental machinery”. “This is a moral victory for PTI — successfully challenging PML-N with its govt power & provincial [election commission]. This election will strengthen PTI,” he tweeted.

Once again, the PTI chairman raised questions about the role of the PML-N government in engineering election results. “We are investigating the number of PTI votes thrown out of NA 122 at the last minute & will then approach the ECP. We will learn from our mistakes & counter those rigging tactics by PML-N that we were not prepared for,” he said.

However, a couple of PTI senior leaders told MEDIA that Mr Khan was particularly unhappy over the result from NA-144 (Okara), where party candidate Ashraf Sohna — who had joined the party after quitting the PPP — had failed miserably, only managing fourth place.

“Mr Khan was expecting victory in Lahore and is satisfied with the close fight there. But in Okara, where the party’s candidate only secured around 7,000 votes, the leaders who recommended Sohna for a ticket will be called in for an explanation,” said a party office bearer.

APP adds: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that results of the by-elections for NA-122 had validated the results of 2013 general elections and proved that Imran Khan’s allegations of rigging were unfounded.

Talking to reporters, he said that votes’ tally of the candidates of the PML-N and the PTI was almost the same as that of 2013.

About Okara by-polls, he said no PML-N leader had gone there to participate in the election campaign, still its candidate had secured 45,000 votes whereas the PTI candidate had obtained only 7,000 votes despite Imran Khan’s public meetings,.

He appealed to Imran Khan to shun negative attitude and start constructive politics because “as a nation we need to fight terrorism, energy crisis, unemployment, poverty and ignorance.

Yasir Shah unlikely to play first Test: Misbah

Yasir Shah may become the latest casualty in Pakistan’s horrid build-up to the first England Test after the legspinner suffered a back injury during training on the eve of the Abu Dhabi match.

561b90c9bd717Yasir, who was widely tipped to play a match-winning role in the three-match Test series against Alastair Cook’s side, suffered a back injury in the nets and may join top-order batsman Azhar Ali on the sidelines who failed to recover from a toe infection.

Captain Misbah-ul-Haq termed Yasir a doubtful starter for the first game.

“We will wait on a final decision on Yasir on the morning of the first Test but judging by his current condition, his participation is highly unlikely,” Misbah told reporters during a pre-match press conference.

Pakistan were pinning their hopes on relative Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar to cause England’s batsmen problems in the absence of spin duo of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman who were England’s tormentors in the 2012 whitewash, taking 43 wickets for an average of 15.6 runs.

Spin bowling great Abdul Qadir tipped Yasir to match Ajmal’s exploits and termed him the ‘difference’ between the two sides.

“Pakistan have a clear edge over England simply because of their quality spin attack. If Yasir continues to perform the way he has been in the last few series, England will be in real trouble. Traditionally, England have not been too competent against quality legspin,” Qadir told MEDIA.

Pakistan take on England in a three-Test series, the first of which starts on October 13.

Shoaib Malik inquires on the injured Yasir Shah. — ReutersShoaib Malik inquires on the injured Yasir Shah. — Reuters

Peshawar among four districts most sensitive for Muharram

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police on Monday declared Peshawar, Hangu, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan as the most sensitive districts for Muharram.

An announcement in this respect was made after senior police officials of the province met here to discuss Muharram security plan.

Provincial police chief Nasir Khan Durrani chaired the meeting, where regional police officers, district police officers, AIG of Special Branch, DIG of Counter-Terrorism Department and Peshawar police chief were in attendance.

According statement issued by the police, 429 Muharram processions will be taken out in the province, while 940 majalis will take place during the month.

The police have identified 129 ‘trouble spots’ on procession routes across the province.

The provincial capital has 67 imambargahs from where 121 precessions will be taken out on different days of Muharram.

Police say all processions will be electronically monitored

In Dera Ismail Khan district, which has 66 imambargahs, 174 processions will be taken out during Muharram.

Hangu and Kohat DPOs told the meeting that ensuring law and order in both districts during Muharram would be a challenging job.

Nasir Durrani directed the police to ensure live electronic monitoring of all processions and adopt three-tier checking for entry to every imambargah and procession.

He said for the first time in the province, all processions would be electronically monitored live for which a software had been installed in all districts of the province.

They were also told to make security zones for imambargahs and precessions, adopt three-tier security filter points, frisk people before allowing to them to enter imambargahs and processions, and keep organisers along with the police on these points.

The police chief said the police would ensure that procession route and venue be cleared by a joint team of all relevant departments; no food or drinks be allowed to be distributed to participants without strict checking, and proper lighting arrangement be made in and around the venue of majalis.

He said he had asked the police to ensure hotspot policing and deployment on hilltops and rooftops in sensitive areas and plugging of all streets leading to imambargahs and procession routes.

Besides asking the police to bar people from standing on rooftops on procession routes, Durrani also issued directions for the checking of particulars of the tenants living on procession routes and in close proximity of imambargahs.

He said security arrangements for Muharram would be checked by Special Branch and in case of any lapse, the relevant DPOs would be held responsible for it.

Rangers launch special operation in Sindh against banned outfits ahead of Muharram

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that since Muharram and local government elections are taking place simultaneously, the intelligence and law enforcement agencies will have to be more vigilant as banned outfits have started re-emerging with new names.

During Muharram, in addition to the Rangers, over 64,000 police personnel would be on security duty in the province.

Pillion-riding would be banned for three days, mobile services would be suspended, and special security measures would be taken for Shikarpur, Khairpur and Shahdadkot while the Rangers would carry out a special operation in coordination with the police and the counterterrorism department against activists of proscribed organisations.

A comprehensive security plan would be worked out for local government elections.

The chief minister gave this approval while presiding over an extraordinary meeting on law and order in the context of Muharram security arrangements right from Muharram 1 to Chehlum. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan also attended the meeting.

The other participants include Senior Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers Sohail Siyal and Syed Nasir Shah, CM adviser on law Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Rangers Major DG General Bilal Akbar, additional inspectors general of police A.D. Khwaja, Mushtaq Maher and Sanaullah Abbasi, and heads of intelligence agencies.

The chief minister said that Majalis and processions began on the first of Muharram and continued till Chehlum. Therefore, the security plan must be worked out accordingly. Apart from it, local government election process was also in progress and a security plan for it must also be worked out.

Three-day ban on pillion-riding approved for Karachi

The chief minister keeping in view security threats approved the imposition of a ban on pillion-ridding for Muharram 8, 9 and 10 in Karachi. Women, children and elderly people would be exempted from the ban. He also directed the home department to coordinate with the federal government for the suspension of mobile phone service.

He urged all the intelligence agencies, Rangers and police to be more vigilant over activities of banned outfits emerging under new names. “They must be stopped from participating in election,” he said.

Rangers DG Bilal Akbar said that after going through the Muharram history of the last seven years, he had found and identified some 95 sensitive points in the city where special arrangements in coordination with the police had been planned.

“The Rangers are also conducting a special operation in coordination with the police and the Counter-Terrorism Department against activists of proscribed organisations and this would continue till Chehlum,” he said.

He said that during the ban on pillion-riding special passes would be issued to media people for the coverage of processions and Majalis.

The DG said that surveillance of the procession would be conducted by helicopter. “We would also use surveillance system of Suparco for security reasons,” he said.

Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan said the divisional administration must hold meetings with K-Electric officials for smooth power supply for streetlights. “We cannot afford risk of darkness in the streets, particularly on sensitive days,” he said.

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to coordinate with the commissioner of Karachi for the purpose.

Special assistant to the chief minister on Auqaf and religious affairs Dr Qayoom Soomro said he was holding regular meetings with ulema of different sects so that a code of conduct could be implemented in letter and spirit.

The chief minister said that he had already directed all the commissioners to form district peace committees through their respective deputy commissioners. Principal secretary Bullo said he was in touch with all the DCs in compliance of CM directives and district committees had been formed.

The chief minister directed the chief secretary to ensure the presence of doctors, paramedical staff and availability of medicines in government hospitals. The local government hospitals should also make such arrangements as usual, he said.

The representatives of intelligence agencies briefed the meeting about activities of banned outfits. They said additional security arrangements be made in Shikarpur, Khairpur and Shahdadkot.

AIG Mushtaq Maher said 64,414 police personnel would perform security duties during Muharram. “The deployment of 41,090 policemen would be static, 5,482 would be in pickets, 8,825 mobiles and 9,017 would be reserved,” he said.

Appreciating the Rangers, police and intelligence agencies, the CM said that during the last Muharram they had performed a wonderful job and “I am sure this time your strategy would also produce good results,” he said.

The chief minister urged the Rangers and police to work out a comprehensive security plan for the local government election. “The first phase of the LG election has been started and it would be followed by two other phases. Therefore, we must have a good plan to control law and order,” he said.

Lahore police told to crack down on banned outfits’ activists

LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Amin Wains directed all police officers to strictly monitor movements of Fourth Schedulers and activists of banned organisations to ensure a peaceful Muharram.

He was addressing a security review meeting held at Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh on Monday. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dr Haider Ashraf, Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Tayyab Hafeez Cheema, Crimes Investigation Agency Senior Superintendent of Police Umer Virk and all divisional superintendents of police (SPs) were present in the meeting.

The CCPO directed all divisional SPs to launch a crackdown on activists of banned organisations who were missing or hiding. He also said SPs should ensure regular search in sensitive areas of their respective divisions and troublemakers should be nabbed or detained after contacting police high-ups.

He directed DIG Dr Ashraf to ensure video coverage of all procession routes, majalis and snipers be deployed on buildings on procession routes.

Dr Ashraf said more than 15,000 policemen would be deployed for surveillance of all central processions of Muharram.

He said the procession routes would be completely sealed to avert any attack and fully monitored by CCTV cameras.