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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday announced to have completed all the arrangements with regard to by-poll in National Assembly's constituency NA-249 Karachi West II, scheduled April 29, including the deployment of police and rangers outside 276 polling stations of the said constituency.

The ECP, in a statement, instructed the presiding officers of NA-249 to keep their cell phones' location switched on at the time of taking pictures of forms 45 of the respective contestants on the polling day. In addition, the ECP asked the presiding officers to take the pictures of forms 45 in front of the polling agents and immediately send them through WhatsApp to the returning officer of NA-249. In case of unavailability of the internet, the presiding officers have been directed to immediately reach the office of returning officer to hand over forms 45.

Every presiding officer would be bound to share with the returning officer the pictures of forms 45, their original copies and cell phones' location.

Last week, the ECP announced that NA-249 Karachi by-election would not be postponed.

Sindh government and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) demanded postponement of the Karachi by-poll on account of alarming rise in coronavirus cases in the third peak of Covid-19.

However, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) opposed the by-poll postponement while demanding of ECP to hold the by-poll as per schedule.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) earlier demanded of ECP to postpone the by-poll citing the likelihood of violence in the constituency before the ECP decided to deploy rangers outside polling stations in NA-249 from April 28 to April 30.

The said NA seat was vacated by PTI's former federal minister for water resources Faisal Vawda, in an apparent bid to avoid disqualification in dual-nationality cases pending in Islamabad High Court (IHC) and ECP. Vawda is accused of submitting a fake affidavit in ECP affirming that he relinquished his American nationality at the time of submitting his nomination papers for general elections in 2018.

Vawda was elected as a senator in March 3 elections, the same day when he vacated his NA seat.

Tough electoral contest is expected in NA-249 between PTI's Amjad Afridi, PML-N's Miftah Ismail, PSP's Mustafa Kamal, PPP's Abdul Qadir Mandokhel, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P's) Hafiz Mursaleen and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP's) Nazeer Ahmed. A total of 29 candidates including 18 independents are contesting NA-249.

Although, federal government has banned TLP but ECP is yet to receive any official correspondence from federal government regarding banning TLP from the list of political parties registered with ECP. The ECP can ban or de-list any political party if ordered by the superior judiciary to do so, ECP sources told Business Recorder.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021