Crucial by-polls being held in 21 constituencies today

Polling being held on 5 national, 16 provincial assembly seats n Mobile phone services will remain suspended on April 21-22 in several districts

ISLAMABAD  -  The by-elections on 21 vacant seats of the national and provincial assemblies are taking place today.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, polling will be held on 5 National Assembly seats, 12 Punjab Assembly seats, two seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and two seats of Balochistan Assembly.

The Punjab government Saturday said that it had sought the suspension of mobile phone services to prevent any ‘untoward’ incidents on polling day. In a letter to the interior ministry, the provincial home department requested the suspension, as by-elections are scheduled in 21 constituencies on Sunday.

According to the letter, the request for the suspension of mobile internet services has been made for Lahore, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Sadiqabad, Kot Chutta, and Dera Ghazi Khan districts.

Meanwhile, the tehsils where suspension is requested include Talagang, Chakwal, Kallar Kahar, Gujarat, Ali Pur Chatha, Zafarwal and Bhakkar.

In a statement, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said that in line with the directions of the Ministry of Interior, the cellular services will be temporarily suspended in certain districts of the two provinces for two days. Polling will start at 8:00 in the morning and it will continue till 5:00 pm without any break.

Preparations are complete for the by-elections on 5 National and 16 provincial Assembly seats across Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan scheduled for Sunday, accompanied by heightened security measures to address any potential incidents.

Polling will proceed without interruption from 8 am to 5 pm for seats vacated by candidates who won multiple seats or where polling was delayed in Feb 8 general elections due to the death of a candidate.

The polling will be conducted across 5 National Assembly seats, 12 Punjab Assembly seats, two Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly seats, and two Balochistan Assembly seats. According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the repolling in PB 50 Kalla Abdullah would be also held on Sunday.

The polling for NA-8 Bajaur and PK-22 Bajaur was delayed on February 8 following the assassination of a candidate, Rehan Zeb Khan. Additionally, polling will take place in NA-44 Dera Ismail Khan, where the National Assembly seat was relinquished by Ali Amin Gandapur, who opted to retain his provincial assembly seat in order to assume the role of KP’s chief minister.

Similarly, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif vacated her NA-119 seat in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, choosing instead to keep the PP-159 constituency that she also won.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif won elections on two provincial and National Assembly seats. He left the NA-132 Kasur and Lahore’s PP-158 and PP-164 seats vacant, preferring to retain the NA-123 Lahore constituency.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari won two National Assembly seats. He retained the NA-194 Larkana constituency, leaving the NA-196 seat in Qamber Shahdadkot vacant.

In Sindh, NA-196 (Qamber Shadadkot) will see a by-poll after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari vacated the seat.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) provided 6.23 million ballot papers to the relevant Returning Officers (ROs) for the upcoming by-elections in 21 constituencies.

Approximately 2.55 million Pakistanis are expected to participate in voting for the five National Assembly constituencies, while around 3.61 million individuals will cast their votes for 16 provincial assembly seats nationwide.

A total of 174 candidates are contesting in the by-elections for 12 provincial constituencies in Punjab, where the voter count stands at approximately 4.04 million. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, the by-elections for two provincial constituencies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have a total of 1.47 million voters. In the race, there are 49 candidates, and 892 polling stations have been set up, with 139 identified as sensitive.

In NA-196 in Sindh, two candidates will compete, with 423,781 voters eligible to cast their ballots across 303 polling stations, 158 of which are sensitive, according to the ECP.

The ECP has announced that by-elections will take place for two provincial constituencies, PB-20 and PB-22, in Balochistan. A total of 396,246 voters in the province will participate, with 354 polling stations designated for the process.

Nine candidates, including Ali Pervaiz and Shehzad Farooq, are vying for the National Assembly seat NA-119, while 11 candidates, including PML-N nominee Malik Riaz independent Muhammad Khan Madani, are competing in PP-147.

Additionally, 14 candidates, including Muhammad Shoaib Siddiqui and Qaiser Shehzad from the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party, are contesting in PP-149. In PP-158, there are 22 candidates, with Chaudhry Nawaz and Moonis Elahi of the Sunni Unity Council among them.

Furthermore, PP-164 has 20 candidates in the fray, with PML-N leader Rashid Minhas and Muhammad Yusuf of the Sunni Ittehad Council among the contenders.

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