ALL eyes are set on high-stakes by-elections to 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly, the outcome of which would determine the fate of the incumbent Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and political standing and future of the Opposition PTI.
The 20 seats are among the 25 vacated (five reserved) by the Election Commission of Pakistan over defection after PTI dissident lawmakers voted for Hamza in the Punjab Chief Minister’s election.
A barrage of allegations and counter-allegations made during the election campaign notwithstanding, the by-polls triggered healthy political activity in the province that augurs well for crystallizing the issues involved and raising political awareness of the people.
Credit for this surely goes to both Maryam Nawaz, Vice President of the ruling PML(N) and Chairman PTI Imran Khan, who visited concerned constituencies and addressed charged crowds.
There is no doubt that the by-elections and their results carry immense significance for PML(N), PTI and Speaker of Punjab Assembly Pervez Ilahi and they would understandably make hectic efforts to secure victory but it is all the more important that nothing is done to discredit the process or deny victory to the other side.
The appeals made by the two sides to their workers and supporters to come out in maximum numbers to ensure their final victory are okay but it is fervently hoped that they would not be provoked for violence as hints were dropped during campaigning.
The Election Commission has made comprehensive arrangements to ensure free, fair and transparent elections and it is the responsibility of all sides to extend sincere cooperation for the purpose.
Some vested interests might make attempts to create law and order situation at selected polling stations in furtherance of their agenda and therefore, law enforcing agencies and district administrations concerned need to be extra-vigilant to foil their designs.
We also hope that the two sides would demonstrate sportsman spirit and accept the result of the election as per democratic traditions.