ISLAMABAD: A tough electoral contest between the PML-N and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is expected as by-poll for the National Assembly seat (NA-19) is set to take place in Haripur on Sunday (today).

An official of the Election Commission of Pakistan told Dawn that biometric machines would be used to authenticate voters before issuing ballot papers at polling stations as part of a pilot project.

He said the success of biometric machines would determine if it was viable to spend billions on introducing the device in the next general election.

The official said the National Database and Registration Auth­ority (Nadra), Pakistan Tele­communi­cation Authority (PTA) and a cellular network provider (Ufone) would render technical assistance in this regard. The pilot project, he added, was in line with suggestions of political parties as had been conveyed by the Electoral Reforms Committee of Parliament.

The ECP, he said, had taken the contesting candidates on board and briefed them by sharing with the standard operating procedures on the use of biometrics machines, list of selected 30 polling stations and objectives of the pilot project.

The official added that contesting candidates had welcomed the idea and had given their consent.

The main candidates are Raja Amir Zaman of the PTI and Babar Nawaz Khan of PML-N.

PTI chairman Imran Khan and some high-profile figures from the federal government travelled to the constituency as part of the campaign for their respective candidates in clear violation of rules set by the ECP.

The seat had fallen vacant after the Supreme Court declared the poll in the constituency held in May 2013 as null and void and ordered a re-election.

PML-N candidate Omer Ayub had won the seat in 2013. His rival, Mr Zaman of the PTI, however, was declared the winner after a vote re-count.

This led to a legal battle and Mr Ayub was declared successful again after a re-poll at seven polling stations in the constituency. An election tribunal declared the PML-N candidate as the winning candidate. Mr Zaman, then, approached the SC against the tribunal’s decision.

After initial hearings, the SC upheld the tribunal’s decision. However, after hearing the case under a review petition, the apex court ordered a re-election in the constituency.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2015

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