KARACHI: For most it was normal to see many polling stations hosting fewer voters on their premises than the election staffs and security personnel given that it was a by-election and a precious weekly holiday.
Camps of many political parties, which had pitted their candidates in the by-election on NA-243, were duly put up in greater numbers — almost outside every polling station — in the thick and vast neighbourhoods of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar till Bahardurabad on the fringes of the constituency stuffed with 402,731 registered voters — 211,510 male and 191,221 female.
Flags of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Peoples Party were ubiquitous in the length and breadth of the areas constituting the constituency.
However, flags and buntings and portraits of candidates and party leaders of other parties — Pak Sarzameen Party and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan — were also seen in many areas.
Security personnel belonging to the army, police commandos and paramilitary Rangers were posted to ensure peace during polling in and outside polling stations.
‘Generally voters show up in large numbers in later hours’
No untoward incident occurred, nor did any complaint by any political parties was reported till the polling ended in the evening.
Generally, the voters turnout was dismally poor in the entire constituency, yet, parts of Gulshan were seen relatively vibrant where voters were seen gathered outside the camps put up by the political parties.
Their turnout at polling stations, yet, was not encouraging till afternoon as some polling booths in Jauhar and Bahadurabad reported voters’ number in double digits, thus, forming unacceptably poor aggregate.
Polling staff at a polling station said normally voters came in better numbers at the eleventh hour and improved the overall turnout ratio.
“It is a holiday and it is a by-election,” said an official who supervised voting at a polling station in a Jauhar locality.
“We have seen a poor turnout in the initial hours, but generally voters show up thick and healthy in later hours.”
Most areas falling in NA-243 had historically been supporting MQM candidates; however, it voted for Prime Minister Imran Khan in the July 25 general elections; and trends were still seen in the favour of the PTI.
Unlike the previous general vote, however, the MQM-P was seen much active in this by-election, which was evident from the number of camps it had set up outside the polling stations, its publicity material was greater in quantity and crowds of people gathered outside its camps were much bigger than its nemesis.
The PPP has pockets of support in the constituency. However it had competed equally against the PTI and the MQM-P, which were considered the main contenders for the seat.
The PSP’s camps were there as well; but those were in smaller numbers belonging to the TLP, especially in the areas where the party had carved its niche at the expense of the MQM-P.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had secured 91,358 votes on July 25 and comfortably defeated MQM-P’s Ali Raza Abidi who bagged 24,082 votes.
The PTI has fielded Alamgir Khan in the by-election against MQM-P’s Amir Wali Chishti, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Hakim Ali, Asif Hasnain of the Pak Sarzameen Party and Nawazul Huda of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan.
Initial unofficial reports coming from polling stations where counting got completed in the evening suggested that PTI’s Alamgir Khan was leading the rest with comfortable distance.
NA-243 encompasses Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Bahadurabad, Sharafabad, Stadium Road, Expo Centre, Hasan Square, Shanti Nagar, Mujahid Colony, Aladdin Park, and Metroville etc.
Low turnout at PS-87
Low turnout was seen in certain polling station of the city’s first Sindh Assembly seat — PS-87 — during the by-election; yet, it was relatively better than what was witnessed in NA-243.
The election on this constituency composed of vast rural swathes of Malir district was deferred after a TLP candidate died before the poll day on July 25.
Some 26 candidates contested for this seat, including Sajid Jokhio of the PPP, PTI’s Qadir Bakhsh, Sindh United Party’s Ghulam Muhammad, PML-N’s Khalil Brohi, and TLP’s Qurban Ali.
Initial results show the PPP candidate was leading the way with a fair margin with the runner-up belonging to the PTI.
Total number of voters registered for PS-87 is 146,852, of whom 83,992 are male and 62,860 are female.
Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2018