KARACHI: MQM-P is looking to retain the National Assembly seat of constituency NA-240, comprising areas of Korangi District’s Landhi, as voting for the by-election started at 8am today (Thursday).
The seat fell vacant after the death of MQM-P MNA Muhammad Ali Khan this year on April 19. Voting will continue uninterruptedly till 5pm.
Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) Nadeem Haider visited all the polling stations and inspected the arrangements.
Speaking to the media, Haider said that all arrangements by the ECP are complete. He said that 309 polling stations have been set up for the by-election. Of these, 203 polling stations have been declared “highly sensitive” by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and the remaining 106 polling stations have been declared “sensitive”.
The DRO further stated that CCTV cameras have been installed at extremely sensitive polling stations, while police and Rangers personnel are also present there.
Meanwhile, K-Electric has been directed to ensure an uninterrupted power supply in the constituency from June 15 to 17.
The MQM-P is likely to retain the NA-240 by-election if past performance and the ethnic composition of a constituency are valid yardsticks to go by. However, it is hard to predict anything with certainty considering the current state of politics in Karachi.
The MQM-P has fielded the party’s coordination committee member, Muhammad Abu Bakar, as its candidate and managed to muster support from the JUI-F. The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has fielded Shahzada Shahbaz, alias Shahzada Kashif, for the by-poll.
The PTI, which currently has most MNAs from Karachi, has boycotted the by-poll, and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), which has been running campaign for the rights of Karachi, is also not taking part in the election.
The MQM-Haqiqi (MQM-H) has fielded Rafiuddin Faisal and PPP has fielded Nasir Lodhi. The PML-N has announced support for the PPP candidate.
On the ticket of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Shabbir Qaimkhani is in the fray. The constituency comprises 529,855 voters, including 294,385 male and 235,470 female voters.
According to a statement issued by the ECP, the ballot papers had been printed and CCTV cameras were installed at sensitive polling stations. Police is deployed at every polling station, while the Rangers personnel are serving as a ‘quick response force’.
The MQM-P’s Khan had won the NA-240 seat in the 2018 general elections by securing 61,165 votes, defeating TLP’s Muhammad Asif, who had bagged 30,535 votes, and the PTI’s Farrukh Manzoor, who had received 29,939 votes.
The JI’s Abdul Jamil Khan, who had contested the polls under the banner of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, had secured over 19,000 votes, while MQM-H chief Afaq Ahmed had bagged over 14,000 votes, and the PPP’s Mohammad Feroze had received over 7,000 votes. The PSP had secured 6,661 votes.