ISLAMABAD: Fearing that Punjab police may fail to maintain law and order during by-election at the NA-154 constituency in Lodhran, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to deploy army on the polling day.
The National Assembly’s NA-154 seat fell vacant after disqualification of the PTI former secretary-general Jehangir Tareen. By-polls at the constituency are scheduled for February 12.
The PTI has fielded Tareen’s son Ali Tareen as its candidate in the by-polls. In his letter addressed to the ECP’s returning officer in Lodhran, Ali Tareen has contended that most of the polling stations of the NA-154 are sensitive as far as law and order situation is concerned.
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“It has come to my knowledge that some political parties have already started acting illegally and conducting pre-poll rigging at the NA-154. …Record rigging was committed during the 2013 general elections and the same is expected in this by-election unless appropriate measures are taken,” he says.
In my view, Ali says, the Punjab police will not be able to control any breakdown of law and order, which will make the entire election and polling process doubtful.
Expressing these apprehensions, he has requested that the ECP approve deployment of army in and outside polling stations on election day in order to ensure free, fair and transparent polling process.
“The entire process for compilation of the results and transmission of the results and ballot boxes from the polling stations to the Returning Officer's office may also be supervised by the army personnel, since ballot boxes and results have been changed in the past during such transmission,” he requests.
The ECP is currently busy scrutinising the nomination papers, a process scheduled to complete by January 5 [today], according to election schedule announced by the top poll body.
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The ECP has fixed January 25 as last date for receipt of applications for postal ballot papers for NA-154. This facility is extended to government servants, armed forces personnel, holders of public offices, their wives and children stationed at a place other than the place in which their constituency is situated.
Jahangir Tareen had won the 2015 by-poll at the constituency after defeating the PML-N's Siddique Baloch with a margin of over 35,000 votes. The by-poll had been ordered after the Supreme Court ordered a re-election for the seat due to some irregularities in 2013 elections.
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