Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Close contest expected between PTI, ANP in Swat by-poll today

SWAT: By-election for the provincial assembly PK-7 seat will be held in Kabal tehsil here today (Sunday) with the residents expecting a tough contest between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the opposition Awami National Party (ANP).

The seat had fallen vacant following the death of ANP MPA Waqar Ahmad Khan from cardiac arrest on April 30.

Haji Fazal Maula of the PTI, Hussain Ahmad Khan of the ANP, Daulat Khan of the Tehreek-i-Inqilab Political Movement and independent Mohammad Ali Shah are in the running.

The mainstream political parties except the PTI had decided not to contest the election citing the sacrifices of the deceased’s family during the 2007-09 Swat insurgency as the reason.

PK-7 is the home constituency of the central PTI leader and former communications minister, Murad Saeed. The ANP has already complained about the ‘active campaign’ by provincial ministers for the PTI nominee.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the constituency has 183,308 registered voters, including 102,088 men and 81,220 women. The polling will begin at 8am and continue until 5pm.

A total of 124 polling stations have been established for the by-election. Of them, 41 have been declared sensitive and 12 sensitive.

The ECP has already assigned magisterial powers to all presiding officers for inside the polling stations and in charge officer of the Frontier Corps’ Quick Response Unit for outside the polling stations for some election-related offences.

Provincial election commissioner Mohammad Fareed Afridi said all arrangements, especially those related to security, had been made to ensure that the voters, especially women, poll their ballots without fear.

He said this while chairing a meeting at the regional election commissioner’s office, where director (elections) Khushalzada Khan, regional election commissioner Mohammad Naeem Khan, district returning officer Fareedullah Khattak, returning officer Mohammad Arif, Swat deputy commissioner Junaid Khan, SP (operations) Arshid Khan, district monitoring officer Imran Khan and other officials were in attendance.

The PEC asked officials to stay neutral during the electoral exercise to ensure transparency and impartiality. He also visited the centre for distribution of election material.

Meanwhile, the polling staff received the election-related material and went to their respective polling stations along with security personnel.

The PEC has set up a cell on its premises to receive complaints about polling with deputy director (elections) Kashif Abbas Malik being its head.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2022

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