By-election in 11 constituencies for national, provincial assemblies underway in Pakistan; Election Commission

Islamabad, Oct 16: Ahead of general elections next year, Pakistan’s major political parties were set to get a taste of their popularity amongst the voters on Sunday in a major bye-election exercise involving 11 constituencies.
Polling started at 8 am on eight national assembly and three provincial assembly seats and would continue without any break till 5pm, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The sets up for grab include three seats each of the national and provincial assembly in Faisalabad, Nankana Sahib and Multan area of Punjab province, while three national seats in Charsadda, Peshawar and Mardan areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and national seats in Sindh’s Korangi and Malir arras.
Former prime minister Imran Khan is contesting on all eight National Assembly seats, which fell vacant after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers resigned after he was voted out of power in April.
The ECP data shows that a total of 101 candidates from different political parties and independents are taking part in the vote, including 52 in Punjab, 33 in Sindh and 16 in KP.
Around 4.472 million voters are registered in these constituencies. In Punjab, 1,434 polling stations have been established, 979 in KP and 340 in Sindh.
So far the polling process has been smooth but slow due to lack of response by the voters due to Sunday. However, it is expected that the process will pick up by the afternoon.
Strict security measures have been taken by the authorities to maintain peace and apart from police and paramilitary Rangers, regular troops have also been deployed at sensitive polling stations.
The ECP also set up a central control room in Islamabad to monitor the voting process across the country.
The main contest is Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz and PTI as the outcome of polling would help to capture the mood of masses amidst claims by the rivals of having popular support.
Since Khan’s removal from office through a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly, Khan has been campaigning for snap polls and regularly holding rallies. It helped him to win 15 out of 20 seats of the Punjab assembly in July when bye-polls were held.
The PML-N has been under stress since coming to power as it failed to control inflation.
The by-elections were originally scheduled to be held during September but were postponed by the ECP in the wake of floods across the country. (PTI)