ISLAMABAD: The polling for the by-election in Lahore's NA-133 kicked off today (Sunday) at 8am amid reports of delays at some polling stations in the constituency.
The National Assembly seat was vacated after the death of PML-N MNA Pervaiz Malik who had passed away on October 11 after suffering heart-related complications.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said it had finalised the arrangements to hold the by-polls in an impartial atmosphere.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja has said that the presiding officers at the polling stations will be strictly monitored.
He said that an application has been downloaded on the mobile phones of all presiding officers and they have been directed to keep their phone's location on while capturing pictures of form-45.
"The presiding officers will send [pictures of] form 45 to the returning officers on WhatsApp immediately in the presence of polling agents," Raja said.
In case of non-availability of internet, the presiding officer should personally hand over the original form 45.
He further stated that three separate committees have been formed to inspect the use of electronic voting machines .
"The decision regarding the EVMs will be made as per the recommendations presented by the committees," he said.
After PTI candidates Jamshed Cheema and his wife dropped out of the contest with the rejection of their nomination papers, 11 candidates, including PML-N's Pervaiz Malik's widow Shaista Pervaiz Malik and PPP's Aslam Gill, were left in the election race.
Hoping for the party's revival in Punjab, the PPP campaigned actively for its success in the by-poll for NA-133, which is considered to be a stronghold of the rival PML-N.
The PML-N has retained the seat thrice in the past, with Malik winning it in 2018 with 89,699 votes, Waheed Alam Khan in 2013 with over 100,000 votes and Naseer Bhutta in 2008 with a margin of over 32,000 votes.
According to the Punjab election commission, there are 254 polling stations in the constituency, including 22 polling stations of A category, 198 of B category and 34 polling stations of C category. Of them, 199 polling stations have been declared sensitive. Around 200 separate polling stations have been set up for men and women and 54 mixed polling stations have also been set up.
The total number of voters in the NA-133 constituency is 440,485, including 233,585 male voters and 206,927 female voters.
Ballot papers and other polling material have been handed over to the presiding officers for by-elections. Polling material, including ballot papers, is being delivered to the polling stations under the supervision of police and Rangers.
Presiding officers have been paid Rs6,000 each for a full day's duty while assistant presiding officers and polling officers have been given Rs4,000 each.
The election commission has urged all presiding officers to save relevant details in their computer. Presiding officers will receive polling bags from the returning officer under the guard of police and Rangers.
In the meantime, the ECP has asked each candidate to ensure proper training of their polling agents. Candidates have also been asked to ensure that no polling agent could leave the polling station without receiving from 45. Each presiding officer is bound to provide the signed copy of form 45 to relevant polling agents at the polling station.
CEC Sultan Raja satisfied over arrangements
CEC Raja inspected the distribution of polling material and expressed satisfaction over the arrangements.
CEC Raja said that all arrangements, including security, are complete. He also urged voters of the constituency to exercise their right to vote.
The election commission said it has assigned security duties to law enforcement agencies, including police and rangers.
The ECP said it has established a control room in the office of the returning officer, which would continue working throughout the polling process until results are compiled.
The ECP has also established separate control rooms at provincial and central levels to register and resolve complaints. The control room will work from 7am in the morning till the compilation of results on polling day.
You may contact the provincial control room through the following live contacts: Lahore: 042 99212209; 042 99212620; Fax: 042 99212209; Email: email@example.com.
The central control room could be contacted on phone 051-9204402; Fax no 051-9204404 for registering complaints. The complaints could also be registered through Email:- ddmonitoringisb@gmail.
A deputy commissioner and officers of police and Rangers will remain present to deal with any untoward incident.
The ECP also expressed hope that the voters would strictly follow the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
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