ISLAMABAD: As many as 1,727 polling stations out of the total 7,489, set up for by-polls being held in 35 constituencies of national and provincial assemblies on Sunday, have been categorised as ‘highly sensitive’.
According to details shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 848 out of total 5,193 polling stations in Punjab, 544 of total 1,555 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 201 of total 544 in Sindh and 134 of total 197 in Balochistan have been classified as ‘highly sensitive’
The proportion of most sensitive polling stations is highest in Balochistan (68.02 per cent), followed by KP (34.98pc), Sindh (20.20pc) and Punjab (16.32pc).
An official of the ECP said that security cameras had been installed at all the sensitive polling stations which would be guarded by army troops. He said deployment of troops was started on Friday and that the troops would remain deployed there till Oct 15, a day after the polling.
The designated in-charges of army personnel deployed in and outside the polling stations will enjoy the powers of a magistrate first class during the entire period of their deployment and will be empowered to summarily try those found involved in impersonation, capturing of polling stations or violation of other relevant provisions of the law.
District returning officers and returning officers for the by-elections have also been given powers of magistrate first class.
Among the total 11 National Assembly’s constituencies for which by-polls will be held, nine are in Punjab and one each in Sindh and KP.
As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s candidates have already been elected unopposed from Punjab Assembly’s constituencies PP-87 (Mianwali) and PP-296 (Rajanpur), by-polls will now be held for 24 provincial assemblies’ constituencies — 11 in Punjab, two in Sindh, nine in KP and two in Balochistan.
Most of these seats had been vacated by those who were elected on more than one seat in the July general elections. Among them was also Prime Minister Imran Khan who won elections from all the five NA constituencies he contested.
In total 9.28 million people from the 35 constituencies are eligible to vote in the Oct 14 by-polls. Of them 6.18m people are in Punjab, 2.02m in KP, 0.884m in Sindh and 0.182m in Balochistan.
Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2018