PESHAWAR: Polling began at the 269 polling stations in the city’s NA-4 constituency at 8 am today. The deputy commissioner has declared Thursday a holiday to facilitate the voters.
For the first time in the history of Pakistan, electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be tested in an electoral exercise.
Around 100 polling booths will be using the EVMs alongside the manual voting process. The male-to-female ratio of registered voters is almost 3:2.
In an effort to hold the NA-4 Peshawar by-election in a peaceful environment the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has made brisk arrangements around the provincial metropolis. Apart from 1,400 army personnel, around 4,500 police officials have been deployed around the polling stations for foolproof security.
According to ECP, 3,97,952 registered voters, including 2,35,127 men and 1,62,825 women, will exercise their right to vote in favour of their candidates at 269 polling stations. The provincial government has established 148 polling stations for men and 112 for women voters.
So far, 14 candidates have been finalised to contest the by-elections, out of whom six belong to leading political parties of the province. The contestants include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) candidate Arbab Aamir Ayub, Awami National Party’s (ANP) Khushdil Khan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asad Gulzar, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Nasar Khan Musazai, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Wasal Farooq, and Tehreek Allahum Labaik’s independent candidate Liaquat Ali, who has yet to receive clearance from the ECP.
The PML-N candidate enjoys the backing of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Qaumi Watan Party of Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, whereas, the PTI candidate is being supported by Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek. Other parties, including the ANP, PPP and JI, will be contesting the polls on their own.
The history of this constituency, comprising of almost half of the rural areas surrounding Peshawar city, has been full of surprises. Since the 1990s, the ANP had remained in a dominant position in the constituency, but in 2002 the seat went to Muttahida Majlis Amal. In 2013 general elections, the seat was grabbed by PTI.
For now, both the federal and provincial governments have launched aggressive campaigns by making promises to address the long-standing miseries of electorates.