Ex-Pakistan PM's wife on course to take his seat after by-election

According to unofficial early results, Ms Kulsoom Nawaz had secured more than 59,000 votes in the by-election on Sunday. Her husband's seat became vacant when he was ousted from office in July.
According to unofficial early results, Ms Kulsoom Nawaz had secured more than 59,000 votes in the by-election on Sunday. Her husband's seat became vacant when he was ousted from office in July.PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE • The wife of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has won a parliamentary by-election for her husband's seat, which became vacant when he was ousted from office, according to unofficial early results.

The Supreme Court ended Mr Sharif's tenure as prime minister in July and banned him from holding public office after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, triggering the by-election for his Lahore seat.

Mr Sharif's daughter Maryam led the campaign on behalf of her mother Kulsoom, the candidate, who is being treated for throat cancer in London.

The seat has long been controlled by Mr Sharif and his allies, but the by-election was seen as a test of the popularity of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

According to unofficial results from most of the polling stations, Ms Kulsoom had secured more than 59,000 votes while her main rival, Dr Yasmin Rashid from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had bagged more than 44,000 votes.

"Today, people have given their verdict over the (court) verdict," Ms Maryam told a jubilant crowd gathered at the party's office.

"First of all, thank Allah a million times because he has blessed your mother and leader with the success," she said.

The unofficial results were compiled by officers at polling stations and handed to officials from contesting parties.

The Election Commission of Pakistan will announce the final and official results later this week.

The PTI party, on course to finish second, is led by former cricketer Imran Khan, who played a key role campaigning for Mr Sharif's dismissal.

A candidate from the Milli Muslim League, a new political party backed by Jamaat-ut-Dawa (JuD) - which is listed by the United Nations as a terror group - was expected to finish third .

Mr Muhammad Yaqub Sheikh, who ran as an independent because his party has not yet been registered, appeared on campaign posters alongside Mr Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of JuD, which is considered by the United States and India to be a front for militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Supreme Court last Friday rejected Mr Sharif's appeal against his disqualification.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-Pakistan PM's wife on course to take his seat after by-election'. Print Edition | Subscribe