The much-anticipated Daska re-election has culminated in the PML-N’s victory with a considerable margin of 16,642 votes. PML-N’s Nosheen Iftikhar won the Saturday’s contest for NA-75, bagging 110,075 votes as against 93,433 votes secured by her closest rival, Ali Asjad Malhi of the PTI. The second runner-up, Khalil Sandhu of the TLP, was polled 8,268 votes – just 7.5 per cent and 8.8 per cent of the votes polled for the winner and the runner-up respectively – which shows the continued trust of voters in Daska tehsil of Punjab’s Sialkot district in mainstream political parties.
Daska’s victory does not only mean another National Assembly seat for the opposition PML-N. It’s much more than that. It means that the PML-N’s magic in Punjab, at least in its central parts, has not faded despite a sustained political campaign against its leadership, especially the Sharifs, from PTI leaders, including its chairman, Prime Minister Imran Khan. It also means vindication of its stance that the ruling party had rigged the February 19 by-election and that a re-election should be held in the constituency.
For the PTI, the defeat must be an eye-opener. It’s the ruling party’s seventh by-election defeat in recent times, also including one in Nowshera, the hometown of former chief minister Pervez Khattak. The party needs to go into some serious introspection. In fact, the Prime Minister should seriously concentrate on how he can provide some financial relief to at least the poor and low-income segments of society.
And while the polling was largely free, fair and transparent, the losing candidate failed to muster the moral courage to accept his defeat whole-heartedly. His congratulatory message to the winner was laced with ifs and buts, and even carried an allegation on the Election Commission of Pakistan. Even the reaction from CM Punjab’s Special Assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan implied a nexus between the PML-N and the election commission’s returning officer posted in the constituency.
The keen contest and an active participation of the people – reflected in a high turnout of 43.3 per cent – demonstrate people’s belief in democracy being the only way forward for the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2021.