The Sindh election commissioner has demanded Rangers deployment in the NA-246 constituency with immediate effect till the completion of polling process on April 23 amid fears of ‘violence’ considering the tense situation prevailing in Azizabad between two of the contesting parties.
A senior official told Dawn on Monday that the request for the deployment had been forwarded to the chief election commissioner ‘through a proper channel’ for better security in the constituency to provide free and peaceful environment for electioneering and polling. “The deployment of troops inside or outside the polling stations is a technical issue that can be addressed later,” said Syed Nadim Haider, returning officer for the NA-246 by-election. He said the recent incidents during the election campaigns convinced the authorities to seek Rangers assistance for security and it would be wise not to wait till the polling day to request for the deployment.
“There are 213 polling stations in the constituency for more than 350,00 registered voters,” said the returning officer. “So we believe that the Rangers deployment for the assistance of local police is essential to ensure peaceful and fair polling on April 23,” he added. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has already demanded Rangers deployment, showing concerns over security situation and transparent election without the Rangers presence.
Kunwar Naveed Jameel, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate from the constituency, had recently told the media that his party would not have any objection to the deployment of troops for fair and free elections. However, the Jamaat-i-Islami has expressed concern over the deployment of local body employees as polling staff most of whom the party said were associated with a particular party. Also we don’t trust the voters’ list as it was prepared in [MQM] unit and sector offices,” said Karachi JI chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rahman while addressing a press conference with JI candidate Rashid Nasim outside the Okhai Memon mosque.
“We demand deployment of election staff who have no political affiliation. We also strongly oppose employees of local bodies as election staff and we warn the authorities if they make them part of polling staff that would question your impartiality,” said the Karachi JI chief. Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rahman said that the Jamaat-i-Islami had served the city of Karachi twice in the past under the mayorship of Abdul Sattar Afghani and Naimatullah Khan Advocate. He said fair and free polls would ensure that the JI win votes in the Azizabad by-election.