PESHAWAR: It is the last day of election campaigning in Peshawar’s NA-4 constituency, where by-polls will be held on October 26.
In light of the upcoming by-elections, the constituency’s roads and intersections are full of posters, panaflex banners and campaign material for display.
According to a statement by the Deputy Commissioner Peshawar, the polling day, Oct 26, will be a holiday for the convenience of the voters.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), for the first time in the country, will be using electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the by-election.
As many as 269 polling stations would be established for the by-poll. Of them, the EVMs would be used in over 100 polling booths of 35 polling stations in both urban and rural areas of the constituency.
Around 47,255 voters are expected to cast their votes through the EVMs along with the manual voting process.
There are a total of 397,904 registered voters in the constituency, of which 235,164 are male and 162,740 female.
The by-election is being seen as a litmus test for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) popularity in the province, especially with regards to the general elections next year.
The seat had fallen vacant when the incumbent lawmaker, PTI’s Gulzar Khan, passed away on August 28 this year. Khan had become estranged with the party leadership over differences on several issues but was still a PTI member.
In the 2013 polls, the PTI candidate had secured 55,134 votes while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Nasir Musazi had obtained 20,412 votes. Moreover, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Sabir Awan had garnered 16,493 votes while Awami National Party’s (ANP) candidate Arbab Ayub Jan had received 15,795 votes. After them, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) candidate, Arbab Kamal, had secured 12,519 votes followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate, Misbahud¬din, who got over 12,000 votes.
In total, 15 candidate are vying for the MNA slot, with six from political parties and nine independents.
The PTI is fielding Arbab Amir Ayub; the PPP Asad Gulzar, late incumbent Gulzar Khan’s son; the ANP Khushdil Khan, former deputy speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and the JI, Wisal Farooq.
At present, the PML-N has again given the ticket to last time’s runner-up, Musazai, who is being supported by the JUI-F and the Qaumi Watan Party.
Moreover, the newly formed but unregistered religious-political party, Milli Muslim League (MML), is supporting independent candidate Haji Liaquat Ali Khan in the race.