PESHAWER: By-elections are set to take place on ten seats in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Polls will be contested on one National Assembly and nine provincial assembly seats in K-P.
A total of 57 candidates will be contesting Sunday’s by-polls as per the Elections Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) data. A total 2,029,963 voters have been registered, which include 878,474 female voters. The ECP has formed 1,555 polling stations which will have 5,007 polling booths. The ECP has declared 544 polling stations as sensitive.
According to the ECP spokesperson, all arrangements including the polling material and security arrangements have been completed for Sunday’s by-polls.
“The polling materials will be handed over to the returning officers today and the transportation arrangements have been completed along tight security arrangements,” Sohail Khan, the ECP spokesperson told The Express Tribune. He added that the ECP will also establish a help desk in Peshawar for addressing issues faced by female voters.
A help desk to deal with the issues and problems faced by women and disabled voters has also been established in the office of provincial election commissioner K-P. The desk will receive complaints related to issues and hurdles faced by the voters from 8am-5pm. (091) 9222534 is the helpline number for any issues faced by voters on Sunday.
The by-elections are set to take place in NA-35 Bannu, PK-78 Peshawar, PK-99 and PK-97 of Dera Ismail Khan, PK-3 and PK-7 of Swat, PK-61 and PK-64 of Nowshera, PK-44 of Swabi and PK-53 of Mardan.
The July 25 polls were cancelled in PK 78 and PK-99 due to separate incidents of terrorism, killing Awami National Party’s (ANP) candidate Haroon Bilour who was set to contest from PK 78 and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Ikramullah Khan Gandapur who was set to contest the July 25 polls from PK-99.
Bilour’s widow Samar Haroon Bilour is contesting the by-elections from PK-78. She is being supported by the political parties in the joint opposition alliance, while PTI’s Aghaz Ikramullah Gandapur, the late Ikramullah Gandapur’s son, is contesting the polls from PK-99.
The National Assembly seat of NA-35 Bannu was vacated by the Prime Minister Imran Khan after his victory in the July 25 polls. The by-elections on NA-53 are being contested by Akram Khan Durrani’s son Zahid Akram Durrani on Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s (MMA) ticket. Durrani also the enjoys support of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), ANP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
PTI’s Maulana Nasim Ali Shah is also contesting the polls from NA-35, he contested in the general elections as an independent candidate.
PK-97 of Dera Ismail Khan was vacated by Federal Minister Ali Amin Khan Gandapur. His brother Faisal Amin Khan will be contesting Sunday’s by-polls on the PTI ticket. While the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Farhan Afzal Malik will also be contesting the polls from PK-97 with the support of Jamiat-Ulamae Islam Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F). JUI-F has withdrawn its candidate in favor of Malik.
Nowshera is the home town of former chief minister and the incumbent Federal Minister for Defense Pervez Khattak. By-elections in Nowshera are being contested on PK-64 and PK-61, both seats were vacated by Khattak. For PK-64 PTI has fielded, Pervez Khattak’s son Ibrahim Khan and for PK-61, his brother Liaquat Khan will be contesting the polls. Awami National Party (ANP) candidates will be contesting for the two seats, which includes Muhammad Shahid for PK-64 and Noor Alam Khan for PK-61.
For Swabi’s PK-44, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser’s brother Aqibullah Khan will be contesting the polls on the PTI ticket while, ANP’s Ghulam Hussain will also be contesting for the seat vacated by the National Assembly speaker after his victory in the general elections.
Mardan’s provincial assembly seat, PK-53 was vacated by former Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti. A close contest is expected between ANP’s Ahmad Khan Bahadur and PTI’s Muhammad Abdul Salam for the seat.
Polls will also take place on PK-3 and PK-7 of Swat, previously vacated by PTI’s Dr Haider Ali Khan and Dr Amjad Ali. PTI has fielded Sajid Ali for PK-3 who will competing against PML-N’s Sardar Khan. While PTI’s Fazal Maula will be competing against ANP’s Waqar Ahmed Khan in PK-7.
An election monitoring cell has been established in Central Police Office (CPO) as around 12,148 police personnel have been deployed for the security of the by-elections across the province.
An official of the police told the Express Tribune that there were a total of 1649 police stations in which 584 were high sensitive. He said that there were nine provincial assembly seats and one national assembly seat on which election would take place.
He said that the quick response force, back up and police reserve as well as the armoured vehicle had been put on alert for use in the event of an emergency.
“We have completed our arrangements from the security of the candidates to the transport of election material,” he said, adding that all the policemen had been briefed about the rules and regulations of the elections and had been assigned the duties.
In Peshawar alone 2000 policemen have been deployed.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2018.