QUETTA – Polling for the by-election in Pakistan’s second-largest constituency NA-260 Quetta-cum-Chaghi is underway here on Saturday.
According to the provincial election commission, the polling will continue till 5 pm without any formal break. Schools and colleges in Quetta and Chaghi area will remain closed for the day.
Seventeen candidates, including nine independents, are taking part in the by-election. A tough contest is expected between Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) contester Jamal Khan Tarakai and JUI-F’s Muhamad Usman Badini, however, the candidates of Balochistan National Party-Mengal and PPP are also in a strong position.
Balochistan National Party has positioned Mir Bahadur Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Nazryati Maulana Qari Mahar Ullah, Awami National Party Malik Ibrahim Kasi, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian Umair Mahmood Hasni, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam Sami Syed M Tahir Shah Akhunzada, Hazara Democratic Party Ahmad Ali Kohzad and Mustaqbil Pakistan has given its ticket to Zahir Shah whereas Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has fielded Munir Ahmad Baloch.
As many as 36,203 new voters – 18,737 men and17,466 women – have been added to the electoral rolls after the general elections 2013, making for a 10% increase. Overall, 993 polling booths – 571 male and 422 female – have been set up.
Fair and Free Elections Network (FAFEN) has deployed 26 trained observers to cover the entire constituency comprising 407 polling stations.
According to Provincial Election Commissioner Muhammad Naeem Jaffar, at least 320 polling stations have been declared extremely sensitive and 50 as sensitive.
“407 presiding officers and 814 assistant presiding officers would discharge their duties on the polling day,” he added.
The seat had fallen vacant after the demise of MNA Abdul Rahim Khan Mandokhail of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), who secured victory in General Elections 2013 on the party’s ticket. The predominantly rural NA-260 had witnessed a record high turnout of 41% during the 2013 elections.