MULTAN: The by-election for National Assembly constituency NA-149, which many see as a contest between senior politician Javed Hashmi and independent candidate Malik Amir Dogar will be held on Thursday.
Javed Hashmi, who recently parted ways with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, enjoys a low key support from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz while Mr Dogar is being openly supported by the Imran Khan-led party in Multan.
The contest is being seen as a direct fight between two rivals Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman PTI, and Javed Hashmi, former president of the PTI.
To ensure law and order, Rangers personnel have been deployed at 106 sensitive polling stations. More than 4,000 policemen would perform their duty on the occasion to avert any untoward incident. Four hundred police vans and more than 100 motorbikes have been provided for patrolling in sensitive areas.
Polling will begin at 8:00am and continue till 5:00pm. As per procedure, the election commission has distributed all relevant material to presiding officers and other staff members.
Authorities have announced a public holiday in Multan on Thursday in view of by-elections. Section-144, which prohibits public gatherings, has been imposed for one day in the district where more than 80 polling stations, out of 286, have been declared sensitive. Rangers will be deployed at the sensitive polling stations whereas police personnel will be on security duty on other polling stations.
The number of registered voters in the constituency are 338,005.
Amir Dogar was elected MPA in 2008 and he is son of former PPP Senator Salah ud Din Dogar and now contesting as an independent candidate backed by the PTI against Makhdoom Javed Hashmi.
Hashmi, who won from NA-149 as a PTI candidate resigned from this seat as per the party line but parted ways with Imran over serious differences.
In the city of Multan, Javed Hashmi has won elections in 1985, 1990, 1997 and 2008 as candidate contesting under the banner of Muslim League. In 2013 from the same city he won for the first time on the PTI ticket. He witnessed defeats in the hands of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, his local rival in 1993, 2002 and 2008 polls.
Independent candidate Amir Dogar won as the PPP MPA in 2008 and lost from NA-149 on the same party ticket with a margin of almost 63000 votes in the hands of Javed Hashmi in 2013.
Shrine of Hazrat Shah Rukn e Alam is also situated in the same constituency.
NA 149 seat fell vacant after Mr Hashmi resigned from the seat as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) member and is trying again his luck as an independent candidate.