Saturday Sep 16 2017

Preparations complete for NA-120 by-election; polling to begin at 8am


LAHORE: Preparations for the by-elections in NA-120 were completed on Saturday as the constituency goes to polls at 8 am on Sunday.

The transfer of required material to the polling stations started on Saturday and ballot papers were sent to polling stations under the supervision of the Army.

Army personnel will guard polling stations throughout Saturday night.

Presiding officers were also given ballot papers and other relevant material on Saturday.

Strict security measures were in place at the Election Commission of Punjab offices. No one, apart from presiding officers are allowed inside the building.

The ECP has also decided to test and use biometric polling machines during the by-polls, a first in the country. 

The ECP said 100 biometric polling machines have been installed at 39 polling stations and 110 people have been deployed to operate them.

The ballot papers for the upcoming by-election were printed from September 10 onwards, also under the supervision of the Army. 

A five-day training course for polling staff was also held and commenced on September 6.

The ECP earlier said a total of 350,000 ballot papers were printed for the by-poll, where 324,786 voters are registered to cast their vote.

All 220 polling stations were declared sensitive to avoid any untoward incident, police sources had revealed. 

NA-120 is a stronghold of the PML-N. From 1986 till now, a candidate, hand picked by Nawaz Sharif, has raced to victory. Thrice, Sharif has contested himself.

After the 1988 population census; this constituency was marked as NA-95. Then in 2002, the area was redrawn and parts of NA-95 and 96 were clubbed together to form NA-120. 

The same year, under the rule of General Pervez Musharraf, PML-N’s Pervez Malik sealed the victory. In 2008, Kulsoom Nawaz’s relative, Bilal Yaseen, was launched from the platform. Finally, in the last general elections of 2013, Sharif fielded himself and won.

A tough contest is expected between PTI candidate Yasmin Rashid and Nawaz's wife and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)'s Kulsoom Nawaz on September 17. According to the returning officer, there are 44 contestants in total for the by-poll.

In light of the former first lady's ongoing medical treatment in London, her daughter Maryam spearheaded the campaign in the constituency.

The NA-120 seat fell vacant following the disqualification of Nawaz as the prime minister by the Supreme Court on July 28. 

In the 2013 general elections, Nawaz had won the seat by a substantial margin, defeating Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Yasmin Rashid, who will be contesting for the seat this time around too.