By-elections for Rajanpur’s NA-193 National Assembly seat commenced on Sunday despite security concerns by the Punjab caretaker government.
The NA-193 seat had fallen vacant following the death of PTI’s Sardar Jaffar Khan Leghari in December 2022.
A total of 11 candidates are contesting in the polls today. However, a tough contest is expected between PTI’s Mohsin Leghari and PML-N’s Ammar Leghari.
Previously, the PTI had nominated its chairman Imran Khan as a candidate. But earlier this month, the former prime minister withdrew his candidacy in an apparent bid to avert possible disqualification in the Tyrian White case.
The voting in Rajanpur began at 8am today and will continue till 5pm.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), there are 379,204 registered voters in the constituency, of which 206,497 are male and 172,709 are female voters.
The commission said 237 polling stations have been established in the constituency. More than 200 Punjab Rangers personnel are also fulfilling duties as a quick response force, it added.
In videos shared by the electoral body today, a number of voters can be seen gathered inside the polling stations.
Meanwhile, both the PML-N and PTI tweeted that a generous number of voters have shown up at the parties’ camps in the city.
‘Misbehaviour with voters’
PML-N candidate Ammar Leghari has claimed that the presiding officers were misbehaving with voters in Rajanpur and the district administration had refused to support them.
“The administration is not standing with what is right and just,” he said. “They are endorsing the wrong things instead of stopping them.”
Ammar also urged the elections commissioner to take notice of such incidents.
‘We won’t be intimidated’
In a video message shared on PTI’s official Twitter, Mohsin claimed that there was a “huge” difference in the camps of the PTI and other parties. “The enthusiasm and energy here are incomparable.”
He claimed that ever since the polls were first announced in Rajanpur, attempts had been made to manipulate voters.
“But despite this, our people have not been intimidated, and have not given in to pressure,” Mohsin asserted, alleging that both the federal and provincial governments had “pressurised local officials a lot”.
“People were sent to jail … but no one could dampen their enthusiasm and this proves that they have identified with the PTI and will make Imran Khan win,” he added.
Two days before the polling, the interim government of Punjab on Friday requested the commission to postpone the by-election.
The government said that the Dera Ghazi Khan division commissioner has raised security concerns in a letter to the home department. The commissioner also wrote to the ECP requesting postponement over security concerns.
The ECP, in a statement, said the Punjab government’s requested couldn’t be entertained as all arrangements for the by-election were already in place.
It added that the deputy commissioner, Punjab Police, Army and Rangers would be present in the monitoring room and respond to any untoward situation.
The ECP said that central and provincial monitoring rooms would work round the clock to monitor the electoral process.
It said that under Article 220 of the Constitution, every institution was obliged to support the ECP in holding free and fair elections.
The election commission warned that non-cooperation on part of any institution or official would result in action according to the law.