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SECURITY men stand guard outside a polling station in Liaquatabad on Monday.—PPI
SECURITY men stand guard outside a polling station in Liaquatabad on Monday.—PPI

KARACHI: The otherwise dull campaigning for the July 25 elections in Karachi finally gained momentum on Monday — the last day of electioneering in the country including Karachi — as almost every political and religious party as well as independent candidates tried their best to convey their messages to maximum number of people by holding public meetings, corner meetings and door-to-door canvassing.

Besides using traditional ways, parties used innovative methods to send their message to the people before the electioneering came to an end on the night between Monday and Tuesday.

Wrapped in flags of Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pak Sarzameen Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, etc, several pickup trucks, decorated with banners displaying each party’s election symbol and portraits of its leaders, were seen roaming, or parked, on various busy spots in the city.

Besides door-to-door campaigning and corner meetings, major parties took out rallies in different parts of the city in which their activists were seen dancing to the tune of party songs and shouting slogans in favour of their respective candidates and leaders throughout the day.

Electioneering ends at midnight after reaching its peak in Karachi

Until Friday, the election atmosphere was visible only in the media as three main political parties — PPP, PTI and PML-N — used television channels for spreading their message through paid advertisements.

While every party was busy in election canvassing, the MQM-P, which dominated the electoral scene of Karachi for the past three decades, for the first time appeared helpless as its leaders were found complaining of not having a level playing field as the banners, flags and posters of the party candidates were being removed by the administration.

Security forces deployed at polling stations

Army troops, Rangers and police took control of over 17,000 polling stations in Sindh for holding free, fair and transparent general elections.

The polling stations have been given under their control in view of the law and order concerns and for the safe transportation of all election material, which would be delivered to polling stations on July 24 (today) under the supervision of the army.

According to the election commission, 29,608 policemen would be deployed in Karachi; 22,228 in Hyderabad; 8,772 in Mirpurkhas; 12,664 in Shaheed Benazirabad and Sukkur and 14,020 in Larkana.

Ballot papers and other election material packed in bags would be handed over to the polling staff on Tuesday in Karachi at the office of the district returning officers.

In interior of Sindh, these bags would be handed over to presiding officers and polling staff at the district headquarters.

Over 20,000 CCTV cameras installed

Like other parts of the country, closed-circuit TV cameras have been installed at all polling stations in Sindh and Karachi.

Four CCTV cameras have been installed in each “extremely sensitive” polling station. There are 5,576 “extremely sensitive” polling stations, where 20,000 CCTV cameras have been installed with an estimated cost of Rs700 million.

The hard disks would have a recording capacity of 24 hours and the recording could be retrieved in case of complaints of rigging or any emergency at such a polling station.

Of the four cameras, one has been installed in polling station’s corridor and three cameras have been installed in polling booths.

Power generators and batteries with two-hour backup support have been provided in the areas which lacked electricity.

According to the election commission, there are 17,747 polling stations in 29 districts of Sindh. Around 200,000 polling staff, including presiding officers and assistant presiding officers, would perform election duties in Sindh.

About 65 per cent of the polling stations have been declared “sensitive”.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2018