KARACHI: Polling is underway for by-elections in National Assembly constituency NA-245 and Sindh Assembly constituency PS-115 on Thursday, after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate’s dramatic exit from race hours before the contest for the former began.
The polls were expected to be a contest mainly between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the PTI. In a serious blow to PTI, however, its candidate for NA-245 Amjadullah Khan announced his decision to withdraw in favour of the MQM candidate, citing neglect for his campaign on the part of PTI.Flanked by MQM leaders Amir Khan and Kanwar Naveed, Amjadullah Khan announced his decision to withdraw in favour of MQM’s Kamal Malick at an early Thursday press conference, held at the Khursheed Memorial Hall at MQM’s Nine Zero headquarters.
The PTI candidate accused his party of neglecting him and alleged that PTI Chief Imran Khan did not even make a telephone call to him during campaign for the constituency. He added that PS-115 provincial constituency, where by-polls are taking place today as well, was the sole focus of PTI.
He claimed that PTI refused to provide him any funding for his election campaign or other such cooperation.
Amjadullah, who was going to make his electoral debut in NA-245, said he was a total misfit in the PTI and that individuals like him “cannot sustain in the party”. He said there was no such thing as management in PTI.
“Imran Khan is a good person but is unable to run a party,” he went on to say. Khan does not know how to play a politician so he should engage himself in welfare work only, he remarked.
He further said that the MQM already had a soft image among masses, “which has become clearer in the current scenario”.
The national and provincial seats had fallen vacant after MQM MNA Rehan Hashmi resigned from NA-245 and MPA Dr Arshad Vohra from PS-115 when the party assigned them key positions in the upcoming local government system after the Dec 5 polls.
The North Nazimabad and North Karachi constituency of NA-245 has long been a stronghold of the MQM where its candidate Hashmi bagged 115,776 votes to emerge victorious in the 2013 general elections when the percentage of votes polled stood at 54.28.
Similarly, Dr Vohra won the PS-115 seat, which consists of Lines Area localities, in the 2013 general elections with 55,804 votes when the percentage of votes polled stood at 53.30.
On the seats, PTI candidates emerged as runners-up with 54,937 and 18,622 votes, respectively. The PTI insisted that the 2013 elections were not fair and for Thursday’s by-polls the party looked hopeful that the results would be in its favour; so did its rival MQM.
With PTI candidate’s departure, there are 15 candidates vying for the NA seat, although the main contest is now likely between the MQM, Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal, which have fielded Kamal Malick, Shahid Hussain and Abdul Rasheed, respectively.
For the Sindh Assembly seat, of the 14 candidates the actual contest would be between Faisal Rafiq of the MQM, Amjad Asif of the PTI, Saeed Chowla of the PPP and Ehsanullah Hazarvi of the JUI-F.
The Mohajir Qaumi Movement, better known as Haqiqi, has also fielded its candidate, Jameel Qadri, for PS-115 after maintaining a low profile for the past several months, Dawn newspaper reported.
In the NA constituency there are over 409,600 voters where 227 polling stations have been set up while in the PS-115 constituency there are over 162,000 voters where 83 polling stations have been set up. In the NA constituency there are 33 highly sensitive, 124 sensitive and 70 normal polling stations while in PS-115 there are 66 most sensitive while 14 sensitive and only three normal polling stations.
For security and secrecy of the ballot, Rangers has been deployed inside and outside the polling stations and police is to ensure discipline around the polling stations.
PTI press conference called off
Following Amjadullah’s dramatic press conference, PTI also called an emergency press conference at the Insaf House, however the conference was later cancelled at eleventh hour, with no clear reasons given for the cancellation.
PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman asked media to leave the venue after a scuffle reportedly took place among PTI workers present at the Insaf House, DawnNews reported.