Karachi by-elections: Polling begins for NA-249

Polls - The News Today - TNT

KARACHI: People of Karachi have started casting their votes to elect new representative from NA-249. The polling started at 8am and will continue till 5pm.

At 10:45am, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers protested outside polling station no 132 in Baldia. PTI leader Amjad Afridi claimed that voters were stopped from entering the station.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 339,000 voters have been registered in the constituency. Ninety-two polling stations have been declared sensitive, while 184 highly sensitive. Seventy-six polling stations have been set up for men and 61 for women.

A police team has reached the site to prevent any further chaos. According to reports, senior police officers are expected to visit the polling station later in the day.

At least 1,100 Rangers personnel and 2,800 policemen have been deployed to maintain the law and order situation during the polling.

A tough contest is expected between 30 contenders. Five major parties have fielded their candidates for the National Assembly seat.

Miftah Ismail is contesting on PML-N’s ticket, while PPP has fielded Qadir Khan Mandokhail. Other candidates include PSP’s Mustafa Kamal, PTI’s Amjad Afridi, and MQM’s Muhammad Mursaleen.

The seat fell vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned from the seat to become a senator on March 3. He had won the seat after defeating PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif during the 2018 General Election.

Baldia Town, Rasheedabad, Ittehad Town, Saeedabad, Qaimkhani Colony, Gulshan-e-Bihar, Mominabad, Frontier Colony, and some parts of Orangi Town fall under the constituency.

It is worthy to be mentioned that on April 19, the Sindh government requested the ECP to postpone the NA-249 by-election until the third wave of coronavirus infections subsid.es. In its letter to the ECP, the provincial government said that most of the cities in Pakistan were reporting a hi.gh positivity ratio and fatalities due to the virus.

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz even called off her visit to Karachi because of the alarming situation. According to the party spokesperson, the visit was cancelled over the rising cases of coronavirus in the country. “There’s nothing more important to us (PML-N) than the lives of the public.”

The electoral body, however, rejected the request and remarked that by-polls will be held as per schedule with all SOPs.

Polling agents and staff have been advised to only allow two people into a station at a time to cast their votes. The voters must wear masks and ensure social distancing.

The authorities have even announced a holiday in the constituency.

Read more: Pakistan reports highest ever 201 new deaths and 5,292 cases in 24 hours

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