All set for high stake NA-246 Karachi by-polls

KARACHI, Apr 22 (INP): The stage is set for the holding of high stake by elections in NA-246 (Azizabad) Karachi tomorrow (Thursday) where the MQM, PTI and JI are pitted against each other.

The constituency is considered as the prestige point for the MQM as the party’s headquarter Nine Zero is located in this area and the party has never lost an election here. Candidates of three major political parties in the fray – Kanwar Naveed Jamil (MQM), Imran Ismail (PTI) and Rashid Nasim (JI) – have run their aggressive campaigns to win the seat vacated by MQM’s former MNA Nabil Gabol.

PTI and JI have given the slogan of providing a fear free environment to the citizens of Karachi if they win the election.

Election Commission has finalized arrangements and distributed the ballot papers and other material to the Presiding officers on Thursday afternoon. The election material was being taken by the presiding officer under the security of the Rangers.

Provincial election commission chief called a meeting of Presiding Officers (POs) today and distributed election stationary and other relevant material among them.

On the request of Rangers, authorities have installed CCTV cameras inside and outside all 213 polling stations. This is the first instance that surveillance cameras have been installed inside polling stations in Pakistan.

Besides 7,300 policemen, Rangers will also be deployed at all 213 polling stations declared sensitive by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). One Rangers personnel will also be deployed inside the polling station. ECP has clarified that Rangers will be deployed only for security purpose and the Rangers official inside polling station will first report to presiding officer for any irregularity.

The ECP has banned use of cellular phones by voters during the election process.

As part of security measures, Sindh government has imposed three-day pillion-riding ban in the city.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued directives for voters casting their votes tomorrow in NA-246 by-elections in Karachi. According to ECP, original Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) would be mandatory for a voter to cast ballot in polling station.

Use of mobile phones will be prohibited inside polling stations, ECP said, adding that it has directed K-Electric (KE) to ensure that power would not be disconnected in the area during election hours.

Director General (DG) Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar visited several polling stations in NA-246 where by-election will be held.

The DG Rangers was briefed on security measures taken in the constituency and the control room set up to monitor CCTV cameras inside polling stations.

Authorities have set up a command and control room at the office of the Deputy Commissioner Central to monitor arrangements during by-elections.

The control room began functioning Wednesday morning, a day before the highly-anticipated by-election takes place, and presiding officers had started arriving at the DC office for election material.

Police and other officials will be present during polling day at the control room, which has been equipped with wireless sets, dedicated phone lines and television sets for monitoring.

A police official at the control room said a special hotline – 99260050 – has been set up where citizens can call to complain or inform officials about any irregularities that they notice during the election.

Meanwhile, the ECP and NADRA’s ‘8300 SMS Service’ has been set up to help registered voters in NA-246 to check the status of their votes and particulars. Voters are able to send an SMS to 8300 and receive information about their block code, their registered voter number and polling station.

A public holiday has been announced in Karachi’s district Central on Thursday to allow citizens to cast their votes.