SIALKOT: The ruling PTI and the opposition PML-N will clash again in a by-poll for a provincial assembly seat from Sialkot (PP-38, Sialkot-IV) in what is billed to be a neck-and-neck contest on Wednesday (today).
Deputy Commissioner Tahir Farooq told journalists on Tuesday that 165 polling stations — 83 combined and 41 each for men and women — had been established for the election. Thirty polling stations have been declared highly sensitive and six sensitive.
Rangers have been deployed at the polling stations to ensure peaceful voting. Paramilitary troops patrolled the areas falling in the constituency a day before the election. Police said they had deputed their force as well to perform the election duties.
Officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) distributed polling material among the presiding officers (POs). The polling staff and security officials remained present at the polling stations after getting the election material.
Officials said implementation of Covid-related SOPs (standard operating procedures) would be ensured at the polling stations.
Eight candidates are vying for the seat which fell vacant after the death of PML-N MPA Chaudhry Khush Akhtar Subhani, a scion of Sialkot’s Variyo family. A tough contest is expected between PML-N candidate Chaudhry Tariq Subhani and PTI’s Chaudhry Ahsan Saleem Baryar who was fielded after the nomination of Qaiser Iqbal Baryar was rejected owing to his dual nationality.
Khush Akhtar Subhani, a former provincial minister, had won the 2018 general election on this seat and PTI’s Saeed Ahmed Bhalli remained a runner-up.
Both the PTI and PML-N are confident of victory in the election this time round. The PTI believes its chances of success have been bolstered by the recent success in the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly elections, whereas the PML-N cites its victory in three recently held by-polls on NA-75 (Daska), PP-51 (Wazirabad) and Khushab seats as a testimony to its strong position.
Similarly, the PML-N claims to have won in most of the PP-38 areas during polling for the Azad Kashmir seat.
Maryam Nawaz concluded the campaign for the party candidate last Saturday and Firdous Ashiq Awan canvassed for the PTI contestant.
Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021