KARACHI: Polling in the by-election on a Sindh assembly seat (PS-94) in Karachi is all set to begin on Sunday morning amid fears of violence and suicide bombing.
The provincial assembly seat had fallen vacant following the assassination of Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Syed Raza Haider, who along with a police guard was killed in a Nazimabad mosque on Aug 2.
The constituency comprising areas of Orangi Town is always considered as an MQM stronghold as in the past elections since 1988 its candidates had emerged victorious. According to estimates based on 1998 census, there are 67 per cent Urdu-speaking people in the constituency, 13 per cent Pakhtuns, eight per cent Punjabis and five per cent Baloch.
In the 2008 general election, Raza Haider had bagged 79,634 votes compared to 4,649 votes secured by the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian candidate, Syed Rais Ahmed Kazmi; 2,630 votes by Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal candidate Maulana Rashid Ali; 959 bagged by the Awami National Party’s Gul Raj Khan and 229 votes secured by independent candidate Tahir Anis.
This time the PPP has not fielded any candidate to contest the by-election. The MMA is also not in the field. A total of five candidates are contesting the by-poll and two of them — Saifuddin Khalid and Riaz Gul — had been nominated by the MQM and the ANP, respectively. The other candidates are: Abdul Haq, Masood Alam and Zeenat Yasmin.
However, the ANP announced on Saturday evening that it would boycott the by-poll and would observe Sunday as ‘black day’.
While the MQM hoped that its candidate would match the votes that had been secured by the slain MPA, many believed that this could only become possible if the party succeeded in bringing out voters on the polling day, as traditionally the turnout in by-election is always less than in the general election.
The Election Commission has finalised all arrangements for holding by-election on the constituency, PS-94, which has 86 polling stations with a total registered votes of 133,150.
Strict security measures have been taken to ensure peaceful polling. Of the 86 polling stations, 22 have been declared as ‘extremely sensitive’ while the rest of the polling stations are declared sensitive. Quoting intelligence reports, a senior Rangers official told newsmen on Saturday that terrorists might carry out suicide bombing on the polling day.
No outsider would be allowed to enter any polling station. One police officer with 15 constables would be posted inside every polling station while policemen in plainclothes would also be deputed outside the polling stations. An additional police contingent would be deployed in the Orangi Town area. Rangers would be deputed only in polling stations declared ‘extremely sensitive’.
The polling will begin at 8am and continued till 5pm without any break.