No by-poll to be held on vacated seats, says CEC
NAUSHAHRO FEROZE, Dec 2: Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim has said that no by-election will be held on the national and provincial assembly seats which have fallen vacant after resignations by legislators over dual nationality.
“The assemblies must have at least 120 days of the tenure in order for the commission to hold by-elections, therefore, the by-elections to be held on Dec 4 on PS-21 will be the last before a general election,” he said.
He was talking to journalists here on Sunday after presiding over a meeting with officers of the provincial election commission and district and divisional administration to review arrangements for the by-election on PS-21.
According to the CEC, the seats will remain vacant till the general election. Six members of the Sindh Assembly and four MQM MNAs resigned after having failed to submit affidavits to the ECP on ‘dual nationality’ a day before the deadline.
He urged the media to encourage voters to cast votes without any fear and said there was no need to seek help from the army and neither any candidate had demanded its deployment. But the number of policemen could be increased if needed, he added.
He said it would be harmful for the nation and all political parties if elections were not held in a fair manner. “The country will suffer and our children’s future will not remain safe,” he said.
Earlier, the CEC said at the meeting that the PS-21 by-election was more important for him because it was the first election under his watch. “Therefore, I have myself come here to redress any complaints by the candidates and observe the arrangements for the polls,” he said.
He said the number of polling stations had been increased so that voters did not have to walk long distances for casting vote, and urged officers to perform their duties impartially without favouring any particular candidate.
He asked the candidates to inform him in writing if they had any complaint about transfer of any officer or anything else.
Deputy commissioner Syed Ghazanfar Ali Shah briefed the CEC on arrangements being made for the by-poll and said the total number of voters was 119,884 — 65,173 male and 54,711 female voters.
He said that 129 polling stations and 325 polling booths had been set up and 129 presiding officers and 325 assistant presiding officers would perform duties on the election day.
SSP Tariq Dhrejo said 39 polling stations had been declared as very sensitive and 10 as sensitive. An officer, a head constable and four constables would be deployed at each polling station, he said.
“Such a large number of policemen have never been deputed at polling stations in any elections in the past. Rangers’ personnel will also patrol the area where polling stations will be set up,” he said.
Sindh member of the ECP retired Justice Roshan Ali Essani, Sukkur division commissioner Mohammad Abbas Baloch, regional election commissioner Ameer Bux Abbasi, returning officer Sain Bux Channar, district election commissioner Azhar Tanwari, MNA Syed Zafar Ali
Shah, candidates Syed Sarfaraz Ali Shah (PPP), Syed Abrar Shah (NPP), Zuhaib Shah (independent) and other candidates attended the meeting.