–11 national, 24 provincial assemblies seats to be decided by 9.23 million people, including 7,364 eligible I-voters
–Army to secure by-polls by deploying troops inside and outside polling stations
–PML-N expresses reservations, asks ECP to ensure vote counting in presence of polling agents
ISLAMABAD: All preparations have been finalised for the decisive by-elections scheduled for Sunday with the completion of security arrangements and assignment of responsibilities to the officials concerned.
Over 100 candidates, including some bigwigs, are contesting for 35 national and provincial assembly seats in the by-polls scheduled for October 14. Seats up for grabs include 11 from National Assembly, 11 from Punjab Assembly, nine from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and two each from Sindh and Balochistan.
28 candidates are contesting election from NA-131 Lahore-IX, 10 candidates from NA-124 Lahore-II, 12 candidates from NA-103 Faisalabad-III, eight candidates from NA-35 Bannu, 22 candidates from NA-243 Karachi East-II, 11 candidates from NA-69 Gujrat-II, three candidates from NA-65 Chakwal-II, five candidates from NA-63 Rawalpindi-VII, nine candidates from NA-60 Rawalpindi-IV, three candidates from NA-56 Attock-II and 11 candidates from NA-53 Islamabad-II.
Over 9.23 million voters will exercise their vote in the by-election. Around 7,489 polling stations have been set up for 35 constituencies.
The ECP said that 1,727 polling stations of 35 constituencies have been declared highly sensitive in which 134 are in Balochistan, 201 in Sindh, 544 in KP and 848 in Punjab and Islamabad. The candidates of PP-87 and PP-296 have been declared successful unopposed.
The commission has said to have completed all necessary arrangements for by-elections in 24 seats of provincial assemblies and 11 seats of the National Assembly.
“Ballet papers, ballot boxes and other necessary items have been handed over to all relevant presiding officers,” the ECP said.
According to the ECP’s directives, on the midnight of October 12 and October 13, all public meetings and the political campaign would come to a halt.
The election campaign for by-elections on 36 constituencies on Friday midnight.
According to the rules, those violating the order will be fined up to Rs 1,00,000 and imprisoned for up to two years.
The ECP spokesperson has reiterated that it is the responsibility of ECP to hold a free, fair and transparent election to ensure the continuity of smooth democratic process in the country.
Explaining the rules and procedures, the ECP official said: “Use of mobile phones would not be allowed in certain areas of the polling station. Moreover, the voter should bring his/her original CNIC to franchise the right to vote.”
The commission has also constituted 27 monitoring teams to oversee the polling operations.
Six of the 11 seats, on which by-elections will be held, were won by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the July 25 general election and were later vacated for various reasons. The supplementary seats won by the party included Prime Minister Imran Khan’s four and one each of leaders Tahir Sadiq and Ghulam Sarwar Khan.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Hamza Shehbaz also vacated a NA seat to take up the role of opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, while two seats by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) were vacated by its chief Pervez Elahi to be elected as Punjab Assembly speaker.
The election was postponed on two seats, namely NA-60, after PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi was disqualified in a corruption case, and NA-103, a candidate of which passed away before the election.
Big names contesting in the by-poll include PML-N’s Saad Rafique, PTI’s Humayun Akhtar and PPP’s Asim Mehmood, from Lahore’s NA-131.
From NA-124, former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PTI’s Ghulam Moheyuddin Deewan and PPP’s Shehbaz Mehmood Bhatti are in the run. Ali Gohar Khan is contesting on a PML-N ticket while PTI’s Muhammad Saadullah will contest for the NA-103 seat.
From NA-243, MQM-P’s Amir Waliuddin, PTI’s Alamgir Khan and TLP’s Syed Nawaz are taking part in the poll contest.
In addition, Awami Muslim League chief and Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed’s nephew Sheikh Rashid Shafique and Pervez Elahi’s son Moonis Elahi are contesting from NA-69.
PML-N CONVEYS CONCERNS:
A PML-N delegation met with ECP secretary on Friday and apprised him over their concerns regarding by-election.
The delegation comprised Marryium Aurangzeb, Senator Chaudhry Tanveer and Sardar Yaqoob Nasir.
Talking to media after the meeting, Marryium Aurangzeb said that they have informed the ECP regarding their reservations over general election 2018 and asked him the counting of the voting should be made in the presence of party polling agents, the practice which was not done previously.
She also told the ECP that the arrest of party chief Shehbaz Sharif will affect the election and party has strong reservation over his arrest.
Senator Tanveer alleged, on the occasion, that the Railways Minister Rashid was running election campaign of his nephew and some people were wooing voters on the promises of employment.
He demanded the commission should take notice of the minister’s alleged pre-poll rigging.
ARMY TO PROVIDE SECURITY:
The ECP has stated that Pakistan Army will take control of the security during by-elections on October 14.
The officers will be deployed inside and outside the polling stations under Article 220 and 245 of the Constitution. They will continue to perform their duties till October 15.
On the other hand, a special security plan has been chalked out to ensure foolproof security for sensitive polling stations on the day of by-elections.
ELIGIBLE I-VOTERS GET PASSES:
The ECP said that as many as 7,364 eligible I-voters have received their voters’ passes for the by-election. According to an official of ECP, the commission has issued voters passes to these successful registered overseas Pakistanis during the registration process of I-voters through their email ID.
He said that all registered I-voters can cast their vote in by-elections.
He added only registered I-voters with having voters passes will have right of casting vote.
He asked all such pass holders to exercise their right to vote during 8:00am to 5:00pm (PST) on polling day.
He advised the I-voters to cast their vote as early as possible.