Voting for Karachi’s crucial NA-245 by-poll begins

A man casts his vote at a polling station in Pakistan. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The voting for the by-poll on Karachi’s crucial NA-245 constituency began at 8am on Sunday morning, with 15 candidates in the run for the seat that fell vacant due to PTI MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain’s death earlier this year. Balloting will continue till 5pm.

The contesting candidates include MQM-P’s Mueed Anwar, the PTI’s Mehmood Maulvi, the Pak Sarzameen Party’s (PSP) Syed Hafeezud Din, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’S (TLP) Muhammed Ahmed Raza and MQM Bahali Committee’s Farooq Sattar as an independent candidate.

A tough contest is expected between PTI, MQM-P and Sattar and MQM-P seems to have an edge as the PPP and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) announced their support for its candidate while withdrawing their own contenders.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said it finalised arrangements to hold the NA-245 by-polls in Karachi amid strict security.

The electoral body said 263 polling stations have been set up, of which 60 have been declared sensitive and 203 most sensitive.

The by-poll in the constituency was scheduled for July 27, however, the ECP postponed the election owing to heavy rains in the metropolis.

No gunmen allowed

A strict security plan has been chalked out to maintain law and order during polling, according to the ECP.

Additional Inspector General of Police Karachi Javed Alam Odho said that paratroopers are standing guard at the polling stations besides the police.

The police official said no political leader will be allowed to have a private gunman. There are CCTV cameras at highly sensitive polling stations, he said. 

CEC directs authorities to ensure transparent, peaceful election

Urging the people to exercise their democratic right without any fear, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja directed authorities to ensure transparency and maintain peace at all costs during the polling process.

“Riots and interference in the polling process will not be tolerated,” the CEC said and warned of swift action against violation of the law.

He directed the police and law enforcement agencies to remain alert and apprehend those who try to create unrest inside the polling station.

Indiscriminate and swift action would be taken against every violation of the law, he vowed.

The CEC urged the people not to believe in rumours and contact the ECP’s provincial and central control rooms for verified information and for lodging their complaints.