Two killed as violent clashes mar Sialkot by-poll

Despite tall claims of “foolproof” security measure ahead of by-election of Sialkot’s NA-75 constituency by the authorities, two people were killed while several others sustained injuries as clashes between two rival groups broke out on Friday, Express News reported.

Besides NA-75, by-elections also took place today for PP-51 Gujranwala-I, NA-45 Kurram-I and PK-63 Nowshera seats that fell vacant due to the demise of the lawmakers.

A polling station at Ranjhai stop in Daska’s village Gondka turned into a “battlefield” after shooting incidents during the clashes, injuring at least eight people out of which two succumbed to their wounds during treatment in a hospital.

One of the deceased, Majid, belonged to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) while the other named Zeeshan was affiliated with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), according to Express News report.

Police reached the spot and arrested the culprits. The Punjab IGP also took notice of the incident and sought a report of the incident from the Gujranwala RPO.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar also took notice of the incident saying those involved “will be arrested as soon as possible and punished strictly according to the law”.

Taking to Twitter, he said he has directed the Punjab IGP for an inquiry over the matter. “Prompt action will be taken against the accused,” he added.

ڈسکہ کے ضمنی الیکشن میں فائرنگ کے واقعے میں ملوث تمام ملزمان کو جلد از جلد گرفتار کر کے قانون کے مطابق سخت سے سخت سزا دی جائے گی

میں نے IG پولیس سے واقعہ کی مکمل تحقیقاتی رپورٹ طلب کی ہے. ملزمان کے خلاف فوری اور بلا امتیاز کارروائی ہو گی!!
— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) February 19, 2021


Polling for the four vacant seats of the national and provincial assemblies in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa concluded on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja has taken notice of violations of the electoral code of conduct in today’s by-polls.

The CEC ordered the provincial election commissioners in Punjab and K-P to launch indiscriminate action against the violators. He also directed the authorities concerned to ensure free, fair and impartial election in all constituencies.

Authorities had claimed that foolproof security arrangements were made to ensure polling is conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, while speaking to the media in Islamabad, claimed that the PTI candidate’s guard opened fire which resulted in the killings of two voters while four others sustained injuries.

“PTI’s hooligans created chaos and entire provincial administration remained mere spectators,” she added.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif, taking to Twitter, said that PML-N voters “lost patience” and broke down doors of a polling station after being made to wait for hours.

Since it was clear that PMLN was winning & with a huge margin, they slowed down the polling process hence long queues of N voters outside polling stations. We have requested the ECP to extend the polling time.
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) February 19, 2021


In another tweet, she urged her voters to keep their eyes and ears open as the government would use every tactic to “steal” the vote whereas the people had given the mandate in her party’s favour.

“PML-N’s victory is worse than death for them [the government]. You have to stop these thieves at all costs and keep a close eye on them,” she added.

یہ ووٹ چور حکومت آپ کا ووٹ چوری کرنے کا ہر حربہ استعمال کرے گی۔ مسلم لیگ ن کی جیت ان کے لئے موت سے بد تر ہے۔ ان چوروں کو آپ نے ہر حال میں روکنا ہے اور ان پر کڑی نظر رکھنی ہے۔ عوام نے الحمدُللّہ شیر کے حق میں فیصلہ سنا دیا ہے اب اس فیصلے کی حفاظت باقی ہے
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) February 19, 2021


Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, during a press conference in Lahore, claimed that it was a guard of PML-N’s candidate who opened fire on a polling station which resulted in the killing of two people.

She alleged that the PML-N workers assaulted the polling staff and also harassed the PTI activists.

“Whenever PML-N people go out, they grab others by the collars but while meeting in closed doors, they touch [our] feet,” she added.

Firdous further said that the government was keeping a close eye on the officers who went beyond the limits of the law.

This will be updated…

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)