KARACHI: After much debate, allegations and counter-allegations between political parties, a partial re-run of the vote in 43 polling stations of NA-250 (Karachi-XII) concluded peacefully and efficiently on Sunday, amid tight security provided by police, Rangers and army personnel.
As unofficial results from the re-polls poured in late Sunday night, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared far ahead of the pack.
Dr Arif Alvi, PTI’s candidate for the National Assembly seat, led with 17,541 votes – a staggering lead considering his sole rival for the constituency, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Naimatullah Khan, could muster around 446 votes, despite Jamaat-e-Islami’s boycott.
Unofficial results for NA-250’s corresponding provincial assembly constituencies – PS-112 and PS-113 – were similarly encouraging for PTI. Its candidate for PS-112, Khurram Sher Zaman, secured 2,521 votes from seven polling stations, against his opponent Khalid Iqbal of Awami National Party who could only secure 177 votes.
PTI candidate for PS-113 Samar Ali Khan, meanwhile, polled 9,501 votes, according to the results of 28 polling stations. His rival candidate, Saleem Zia of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz bagged around 3,291 votes.
Till the filing of this report, election staff was still busy counting the votes from 43 stations.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior Election Commission official said that Dr Alvi had unofficially been elected to the National Assembly seat. According to the official, Alvi secured around 51,000 votes on May 11, against Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate Khushbakht Shujaat, who received around 47,000 votes, and Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Rashid Rabbani, who received around 17,000 votes.
With their respective parties’ decision to boycott the partial re-run of polls, their chances of defeating Alvi have been virtually erased.
“After adding the results from the re-polls, Alvi’s vote count may rise up to 68,500,” the official maintained, adding that the final results would be announced by May 22.
More than 80,000 voters had been registered in the 43 polling stations where the re-polls were scheduled to take place. While the process ended without any untoward incident – as opposed to May 11, which witnessed mismanagement and staggering delays, amid allegations of rigging – the turnout on Sunday was much lower than Election Day. In several stations, the turnout was as low as 30-40%, compared to 55-60% on May 11.
The low turnout can be gauged from the example of Aram Bagh polling station, where only 49 votes were cast against 1,400 registered voters. Similarly, while 1,100 voters were registered at the polling station near the Railway Station, only 500 people turned up to cast votes on Sunday.
A higher turnout was witnessed in the DHA and Clifton areas, despite fears stoked by the killing of senior PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain the night before.
“We are really happy to see the arrangements made by the ECP. If such measures had been taken on May 11, the situation would have been much better,” said Abdul Haq, a senior citizen who came to vote at the Aisha Bawany School.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2013.