Troops to be deployed for 21 by-polls today

Cellular, Internet services shut in parts of Punjab, Balochistan

Rizwan Shahzad April 21, 2024


The federal government has decided to make strict security arrangements for the by-elections across the country scheduled to take be held on Sunday (today), approving the deployment of the civil armed forces and Pakistan Army troops during the polling.

The civil armed forces and army troops will be used as a quick response unit.

The civil armed forces and army troops will provide second- and third-tier security respectively on the polling day.
According to a notification, the civil armed forces and army troops will be available in 21 constituencies from April 20 to 22.
The Interior Ministry issued these orders after the approval of the federal government.

The by-elections will be held in 21 constituencies of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.
Polling will commence at 8 am and continue until 5 pm.

Over 6.23 million ballot papers have been printed for the elections. Specifically, white ballot papers have been printed for both the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

In Punjab, 174 candidates are vying for positions, while Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has 49 candidates in the race.
Punjab boasts 21.77 million male and 18.67 million female registered voters who will exercise their democratic rights. Meanwhile, K-P has 1.471 million voters who can participate in the by-elections. Punjab will host 663 male, 649 female, and 1289 joint polling stations, with a total of 892 polling stations set up in K-P.

For the National Assembly constituency NA-196 in Sindh, 4.239 million voters are eligible to vote. Five candidates will compete in this constituency, which will have 933 polling stations. In Balochistan, 125 polling stations have been established across two provincial constituencies, where 163,000 voters will cast their votes.

A control room will be set up in the provincial election commissioners' offices to address any concerns. Additionally, the installation of CCTV cameras at sensitive polling stations will be completed as well.

Notably, Aseefa Zardari-Bhutto has been elected unopposed from National Assembly constituency NA-207 Shaheed Benazirabad. Her father, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, had left the seat to become as the president of the country.
Similarly, Zubair Junejo has been elected unopposed from Sindh Assembly constituency PS-80 Dadu, which had fallen vacant following the death of Abdul Aziz Junejo.

The federal government has also decided to temporarily suspend cellular services in certain districts of Punjab and Balochistan during the by-elections.

In a statement, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that in line with the directions of the interior ministry, cellular services will be temporarily suspended in specific districts of the two provinces for two days.

The authority added that the decision had been made to safeguard the integrity and security of the electoral process.
Earlier, the Punjab government had requested the Centre to suspend mobile internet services in the province's 13 districts and tehsils on the polling day.

In a letter to the Interior Ministry, the Punjab Home Department requested the suspension to maintain law and order situation in the province and avoid any untoward incident during the by-elections.

The request for the suspension of cellular services has been made for the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan.

The tehsils where the suspension of services has been requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujrat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal, and Bhakkar.

As for the background of some of these 21 constituencies, the general election for NA-8 Bajaur was postponed because of the murder of a candidate, Rehan Zeb Khan.

As for NA-44 Dera Ismail Khan, it was left vacant by Ali Amin Gandapur for becoming the K-P chief minister.Similarly, NA-119 Lahore was vacated by Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz, who preferred to become an MPA from PP-159.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif emerged victorious in the elections for two NA and two provincial legislature seats.
He left the NA-132 Kasur as well as Lahore’s PP-158 and 164 seats vacant, opting to be sworn in for NA-123 Lahore.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari won two seats in the National Assembly. He retained NA-194 Larkana while leaving the seat of NA-196 Qamber Shahdadkot vacant.

In Balochistan, BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal retained NA-256 and left PB-20 Khuzdar vacant.


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