A pakistani army soldier stands guard at a polling station. — File photo
ISLAMABAD: Almost half the polling stations to be established for coming by-elections in 42 national and provincial assembly constituencies have been declared as ‘sensitive’, data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have revealed.
Of the 7,622 polling stations to be set up for the by-elections scheduled for August 22, 3,644 have been declared as ‘sensitive’, with 1,657 of them falling in the category of ‘highly sensitive’.
According to the data, of the 3,861 polling stations to be set up in seven national and 15 provincial assembly constituencies in Punjab, 1,021 have been categorised as ‘sensitive’, with 297 of them being declared ‘highly sensitive’.
In Sindh the situation appears to be particularly worrisome as all of the 1,184 polling stations to be established for elections for three national and four provincial assembly seats have been identified as ‘sensitive’. As many as 819 of them have been placed in the ‘most sensitive’ category.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2,209 polling stations will be set up in five national and four provincial assembly constituencies and 1,184 of them have been identified as sensitive, with 345 as ‘most sensitive’.
In Balochistan 368 polling stations will be set up in one national assembly and three provincial assembly constituencies and 310 of them have been categorised as ‘sensitive’. One hundred and ninety-six of these have been placed in the category of ‘highly sensitive’.
An ECP official said the army will provide security for the ‘highly sensitive’ polling stations and possibly the ‘sensitive’ polling stations as well.
In all 536 candidates are in the run for the 42 national and provincial assembly seats. There are 216 candidates in the run for 16 national assembly seats. A total of 180 candidates will be contesting elections for 15 provincial assembly seats in Punjab, 82 for four provincial assembly seats in Sindh, 32 for three provincial assembly seats in Balochistan and 27 for four provincial assembly seats in KP.
Most of the seats fell vacant after winners of more than one seat vacated them.
The 15 National Assembly constituencies where by-elections are to be held are NA-1 (Peshawar), NA-5 (Nowshera), NA-13 (Swabi), NA-25 (D.I. Khan-cum-Tank), NA-27 (Lakki Marwat), NA-48 (Islamabad), NA-68 (Sargodha), NA-71 (Mianwali), NA-83 (Faisalabad), NA-129 (Lahore), NA-177 (Muzaffargarh), NA-235 (Sanghar), NA-237 (Thatta), NA-254 (Karachi) and NA-262 (Killa Abdullah).NA-1 and NA-71 have been vacated by Imran Khan, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who has retained NA-56 (Rawalpindi). Imran Khan was perhaps the only prominent political leader who contested polls from four NA seats. He lost election on one seat from Lahore to NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.NA-68 has been vacated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has retained NA-120 (Lahore).NA-129 has been vacated by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who has retained a provincial assembly seat.NA-5 and NA-13 have been vacated by Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaisar of PTI, who have retained their seats in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. Both NA-25 and NA-27 have been vacated by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, who has retained NA-24.NA-177 has been vacated by Jamshed Ahmad Dasti who contested the election as an independent candidate. Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashdi of PML-F vacated NA-235 and retained NA-216 (Khairpur).NA-216 has been vacated by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the chief of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, who has retained NA-259 (Quetta).
Some of the candidates who lost the general election are trying their luck again. Ghulam Ahmad Bilour of Awami National Party is prominent among such candidates. He will contest for NA-1 (Peshawar) where he was defeated by PTI chief Imran Khan.
Faisal Sakhi Butt will try his luck from NA-48 (Islamabad) where he lost to Makhdoom Javed Hashmi of the PTI in the general elections.