Peshawar (October 26, 2017): Polling has started for the crucial by-election of NA-4 Peshawar constituency here.
Many observers consider the by-poll as a litmus test for the popularity of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in the province.
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The seat had fallen vacant after the death of dissident PTI MNA Gulzar Khan on Aug 28.
At some polling stations of the constituency, polling started with delay.
The by-election is considered as litmus test of the ruling PTI and its government over 4-year performance in the province.Strict security arrangements have been made by the administration for the by-elections. Deputy Commissioner Peshawar has banned brandishing and displaying of arms and rallies in the constituency by imposing Sec-144. Pilling riding and assembly of more than four people have also been banned.
Analysts said that the NA-4 Peshawar is for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) what NA-120 Lahore was for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in last month’s by-election.
Victory in the by-election would be a verdict on its four-year rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and losing the election would not only be demoralising but would also give a boost to its political foes, waiting eagerly to regain their lost territory.Not surprisingly, therefore, both parties have thrown their full political might and resources into the contest. Both have pumped massive federal and provincial funds into NA-4 for launching new projects, or to complete the ongoing ones before schedule. Gulzar’s son, Asad Gulzar, is also on the list but he is contesting election on PPP ticket, which he recently joined. PTI has fielded Arbab Amir, brother of Arbab Zahir who was elected on the seat on the ticket of Awami National Party. Amir had recently jumped ship from ANP.
From PML-N, Nasir Musazai will be contesting the by-poll. Musazai is backed by QWP and JUI-F that withdrew its candidate announcing support for PML-N.
ANP has fielded the former deputy speaker of KP Assembly, Khushdil Khan, while Jamaat-e-Islami has fielded Wasil Farooq Khan, whose candidate in last general election stood third.NA-4 comprises rural areas of Peshawar, including Hazar Khwani, Chamkani and Badhber. One side of the constituency connects to GT Road via Chamkani, while the other meets Pabbi, Nowshera. The area of Badbher connects the constituency with Khyber Agency, while the route of Mattani joins it to Darra Adam Khel in Frontier Region Kohat.The geographic location of the constituency and terrorism incidents that have taken place there in the past are the reason why all the polling stations there have been declared sensitive while 182 have been marked as ‘most sensitive’.The constituency is home to around 600,000 people who call it a hub of problems as gas and electricity load-shedding and lack of potable water and schools for girls have made their routine life difficult.
In the heart of the constituency is situated Sher Shah Suri Road where vehicles can be seen struggling their way through the rickety path around Phandu Chowk.As far as security arrangements are concerned, Pakistan Army personnel will be deployed inside and outside at all the polling stations of the NA-4, Peshawar-IV by-election. Around five thousand Police personnel will also be deployed to monitor law and order situation in the constituency.
According to an official of ECP, the constituency had total 397,904 registered voters, out of which 235,164 are men while 162,740 are women.He said that total 269 polling stations including 150 for men, 110 women and 10 combined polling station have been set up for by-election.
The registered voter strength in the constituency is 397, 952, among them 235,127 male and 162,825 females. The Election Commission of Pakistan has established 269.Out of these stations, 39 polling stations will experience electronic voting system for the first time in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
All the major parties of the province have been running extensive campaigns to muster support ahead of the by-polls.NA-4 is the biggest constituency of Peshawar from where many influential political families draw their strength.
NA-4 was won by PTI candidate Gulzar Khan in 2013 with a total of 55,134 votes. Nasir Khan Mosazai (PML-N), Sabir Hussain Awan (Jamaat-e-Islami) and Arbab Ayub Jan (ANP) followed with 20,412, 16,493 and 15,796 votes, respectively.
The turnout in 2013 polls was recorded at 40.34 percent as 138,555 votes were polled out of which 3,707 were rejected.
The seat fell vacant after PTI’s then MNA Gulzar Khan passed away on August 28 this year. 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. While 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 the election.