Polling for NA-249-Karachi by-election underway

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KARACHI: Polling for the by-election in the NA-249 constituency started at 8am and will continue till 5pm without any interval. The National Assembly seat fell vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has deployed special staff for strict implementation of coronavirus guidelines as long as the polling process continues.

There are 30 candidates in the electoral arena, including PML-N’s Miftah Ismail, PTI’s Amjad Afridi, PPP’S Qadir Khan Mandokhel, Karachi’s former mayor Mustafa Kamal and MQM’s Hafiz Mursaleen, besides 18 independent candidates.

There are over 339,000 registered voters in NA-249, including 201,656 male and 137,935 female voters, who are casting their votes on 276 polling stations. The ECP has declared 184 polling stations highly sensitive and 92 others sensitive. The CCTV cameras have been installed at highly sensitive polling stations.

Some well-known areas in the constituency include Delhi Colony, Mujahid Colony, Baldia, and Saeedabad, while the prominent ethnic groups in this working-class neighborhood comprise Urdu-speaking people, Pashtuns, Kashmiris, and the Seraiki-speaking lot.

A brief political history of NA-249

Prime Minister Imran Khan chose this constituency to contest elections for the first time in Pakistan in the year 1997. He could only secure 2,037 votes from the area which, at that time, was named NA-184.

Since 2008 the constituency has elected a different political party to power in every general poll. In 2008, PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel won with over 56,000 votes.

In 2013, MQM’s Muhammad Salman Baloch clinched victory with 39,000 votes, while in 2018, Muhammad Faisal Vawda bagged the constituency with over 35,000 votes.

Interestingly, Shehbaz Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab, who was contesting polls for the first time in Karachi, lost to Vawda with only 723 votes.

A candidate of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which has now been banned by the government, ranked third in 2018 elections, with 23,981 votes.

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