The residents of Karachi’s NA-246 constituency will be casting their votes from 8am today for their favourite candidate contesting the by-elections on the seat left vacant by Nabil Gabol, an estranged leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
The election commission staff had been deployed at the 213 polling stations since Wednesday evening after the ballot boxes, papers, and bags were brought in passenger buses, amid tight security. The presiding officers of each polling station received the material from the District Central deputy commissioner’s office.
“The ballot papers are provided according to the number of votes registered at the polling station,” explained the provincial election commissioner Tanveer Zaki.
Meanwhile, political parties expressed reservations over the impartiality of the presiding officers and their assistants. Around 1,917 election staff has been deployed at the polling stations, a majority of whom are drawn from federal government departments such as the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Pakistan Steel Mill, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Income Tax and Pakistan Post. The PTI, JI and Pasban-e-Pakistan have expressed misgivings about the partiality of the staff as they claim that a number of trade union activists of the MQM are employed in the KPT and the Steel Mill and have been included as staff.
On Wednesday, the Sindh Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar visited some of the polling stations to review the security arrangements. Rangers deputy DG Brigadier Imran Munawar, speaking at a meeting at the CM House, said the paramilitary force was present in all 213 polling stations. “We will keep a vigilant eye on every voter to ensure that the ballot papers are not taken out,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2015.