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SHANGLA: A tough competition is expected between Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Shaukat Yousafzai and Pakistan Muslim League-N’s Mohammad Rashad in the re-election on PK-23, Shangla-I scheduled for Monday (today).

The July 25 election in the constituency was declared null and void by the Election Commission of Pakistan over low women turnout. PTI’s Shaukat Yousafzai had won the seat by securing 17,399 votes and PML-N’s Mohammad Rashad remained the runner-up with 15,533 votes.

This time only Mr Yousafzai and Mr Rashad are in the running as majority of the contestants, including independents, have withdrawn from the contest in favour of the former.

Though Mr Rashad has support of opposition parties in the provincial assembly, the local workers of these parties have rejected directives of their provincial leaderships and struck electoral alliances with the PTI.

Both candidates have run an intense campaign to woo voters. According to the mood prevailing in the constituency, Mr Yousafzai is being considered strong candidate to win the seat with much better margin than before as his party rules both the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the centre.

The election material and the polling staff have been dispatched to the polling stations amid tight security, while extraordinary security measures have been taken for the polling day. According to the ECP, 200,555 are total registered voters in the constituency, among them 86,728 women, with 135 polling stations, 25 for women, 21 for men and 89 combined.

The ECP has declared 18 polling stations most sensitive, 35 sensitive and 82 normal.

Meanwhile, deputy secretary, Election Commission Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Naveed ur Rehman has said female security staff would be deployed at the women polling stations and also there would be separate entry and exit gates for female voters, ensuring their full participation in the election.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018