KARACHI–The counting of votes started soon after the polling ended for the fiercely contested NA-246 by-election at 5pm, after a day of polling amid unprecedented security. Rangers personnel have been closely monitoring the counting process behind closed doors as no unauthorised person was allowed to enter the premises.
According to the unofficial and unconfirmed results obtained by DawnNews, MQM candidate Kunwar Naveed is leading with more than 14,000 votes followed by PTI’s Imran Ismail and Rashid Naseem of JI.
213 polling stations were set up with 769 polling booths housed in 55 buildings, for 357,861 registered voters. Around 2,556 policemen will provide security in the constituency, whereas Rangers personnel were also deployed at almost all polling stations.
Although 14 candidates are in the run, but the by-poll is largely a three-way contest between Kanwar Naveed Jameel of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Imran Ismail of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Rashid Naseem of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).
The involvement of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and JI Emir Sirajul Haq has turned what is just a simple by-election for one seat into an electoral battlefield of national importance.
The constituency is considered to be an MQM bastion because its headquarters Nine Zero is located there and the party had emerged victorious in all three previous general elections in 2002, 2008 and 2013 and in a by-election in May 2004. It comprises Federal B. Area, Federal Capital Area and parts of Liaquatabad.
The seat fell vacant after MQM’s Nabeel Gabol resigned from the National Assembly.