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By-elections: Polling ends peacefully, vote count begins

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The polling for by-elections on 11 National and 24 provincial assemblies has ended without any major disruption amid stringent security.

More than five million registered voters, around 2.3 million women and over 2.7 million men, exercised their right to vote. Overseas Pakistanis voted for the first time in the by-polls through iVoting.

The polling started at 8am and continued till 5pm without any break. A total of 374 candidates are contesting the by-elections.

The major NA constitutes where political bigwigs are contesting include Lahore’s NA-131, where a tough contest is expected between PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique and Humayun Akhtar of PTI. Similarly former PM Shahid Khaqan is vying from NA-124 and Alamgir Khan is contesting from Karachi’s NA-243.

Over 7,400 polling stations had been set up for the by polls. Of these, 1727 were categorized as highly sensitive.

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5:00pm: Polling time ends. Vote count begins


4:50pm: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not allowed to cast his vote in the NA-124 constituency of Lahore as he did not have his national identity card.

4:35pm: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived at a polling station in NA-124 (Lahore-II) to cast his vote. Shahid Khaqan had earlier arrived to the polling station to welcome his party leader.

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4:10pm: Three PTI activists were reportedly injured outside a polling station in NA-131. According to the injured activists, PML-N workers beat them up out of rage. Police was later called to the site to quell the tension.

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3:38pm: A groom, Muhammad Pervaiz, dropped by into a polling station in Punjab’s PP-164 to cast his vote before heading to his destination to tie the knot.

Speaking to media, he said he desired to see a change in the country which was why he came to cast his vote.Groom

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3:12pm: The atmosphere outside a polling station in Defence area of Lahore turned tense when charged workers of PTI and PML-N came face to face and chanted slogans against each other after PTI candidate Humayun Akhtar Khan reached there.

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2:48pm: More than 5,000 overseas Pakistanis have cast their votes through i-voting, according to ECP.

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2:18pm: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided not to extend polling time as per schedule. Polling for the by-elections will come to an end at 5pm, it said.

The voters already present within the polling station premises will be allowed to cast their votes. ECP said it has received no request for extending polling time.

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1:53pm: Women in PK-61 (Nowshera) have been barred from casting their votes in by-polls.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken notice of the issue and directed relevant District Returning Officer (DRO) to look into it. An ECP official said that the DRO is currently holding talks with the elders of the area to resolve the issue.

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1:31pm: Speaker of Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi cast his vote in NA-69, Gujrat.  Speaking to the media, he said voters turnout is low owing to Sunday and hoped it would increase in the evening.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi

Besides, he added, turnout in by-elections remains low as compared to general elections.

To a question about whether the new government is being sent packing, he said it would complete its five-year term. It is working smoothly and making efforts to resolve the issues facing the country, he added.

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1:09pm: 3,200 overseas Pakistanis have cast their ballots in today’s by-election, so far.  A total of 7, 364 expats have been registered with ECP as voters. Overseas Pakistanis are taking party in a local election for the first time on the directives of the top court.

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12:41pm:  Prime Minister arrived at a polling station in NA-53, Islamabad and cast his vote. The PM left quickly after casting his vote.

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12:25pm:  Voting has been stopped at a polling station in Peshawar’s constituency. It transpired that names of 900 voters were missing in the list.

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12:00pm: As many as 2800 overseas Pakistanis have cast their vote so far, according to director general IT, ECP.

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11:39am: PTI candidate in NA-243, Alamgir Khan, says his party will once again emerge victorious from the constituency. He appealed people to come out of homes to bring about ‘change’.

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To a volley of questions, Khan said people must be aware that pile of debt on the country for last 60 days cannot be paid off in 30 days.

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11:09am: The ECP has received 10 complaints so far from different constituencies. The election commission’s spokesperson said the teams were working to resolve the complaints in no time.

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11:01am: According to reports, more than 1200 overseas Pakistanis have cast their vote through iVoting, so far.

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10:42am: The voting process at a polling station in NA-243, Gulshan-e-Iqbal area has stopped for a while, reportedly due to negligence of polling staff. It is learnt that the staffers brought list of another polling station, thus halting the voting process for a while.

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10:30am: MQM candidate in NA-243, Amir Chishti,  says he is hopeful of his party’s victory in the by-polls. Burgeoning inflation has actually made ‘Tabdeeli’  a symbol of scare for public, he claimed.Pakistan by-elections

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10:22am: The Election Commission of Pakistan has activated the RTS system, which helps officials to send poll results to the ECP in real time.

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10:09am: The security team of Prime Minister Imran Khan has reached a polling station in NA-53 where he is due to cast his vote.

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9:53am: PSP chief Mustafa Kamal, whose party failed to grab even a single seat in July 25 general elections, appeals to the people of NA-243 to come out of their homes and vote for his party.

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ECP activates complaint cell: The election commission has shared landline numbers of its cell where voters can lodge their complaints.

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9:38am: An impressive turnout of voters is being seen at polling stations in PS-87, Malir, Karachi, reports our correspondent Arbab Chandio.

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An overseas voter on Twitter shares the screengrab of online ECP portal after casting his ballot in favour of his desired candidate.

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9:24am: PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique has cast his vote in NA-131. Briefly speaking to media after casting his ballot, he said contesting elections was never easy. ‘We dont get level playing field in Pakistan,’ he claimed.

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9:09am: A candidate in NA-103, Tandlianwala, Punjab has set up a polling camp in front of a polling station, in violation of the election code of conduct.

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Here’s the province-wise breakdown of constituencies where by-elections are currently underway

Punjab: NA-124 (Lahore), NA-131 (Lahore), NA-60 (Rawalpindi), NA-63 (Rawalpindi), NA-65 (Chakwal), NA-69 (Gujrat), NA-103 (Faisalabad), NA-56 (Attock), PP-164 (Lahore), PP-165 (Lahore), PP-103 (Faisalabad), PP-118 (Toba Tek Singh), PP-3 (Attock), PP-27 (Jhelum), PP-201 (Sahiwal), PP-201 (Sahiwal), PP-222 (Multan), PP-272 (Muzaffargarh), PP-264 (Rahim Yar Khan), PP-292 (DG Khan)

Sindh: NA-243 (Karachi), PS-30 (Khairpur), PS-87 (Malir-I)

Balochistan: PB-35 (Mastung), PB-40 (Khuzdar)

Khyber Pakhtonkhwa: NA-35 (Bannu), PP-3 (Swat), PK-7 (Swat), PK-44 (Swabi), PK-53 (Mardan), PK-61 (Nowshera), PK-64 (Nowshera), PK-78 (Peshawar), PK-97 (DI Khan), PK-99 (DI Khan).

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8:48am: PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat has cast his vote in NA-69, Gujrat.

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Control room set up for overseas voters to assist them with ‘passwords’

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has set up a control room to facilitate overseas voters who have been registered through i-voting for today’s by-elections/

The commission says it has issued passcodes to all 7,364 registered overseas voters, who can log in and cast their votes in the by-polls on Sunday between 8am and 5pm (PST).

But those registered voters who still haven’t received their passwords can contact the ECP control room.

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8:31am: Reports from some polling stations in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar area say that polling staff has not yet reached designated booths, and a number of female voters are waiting to cast their ballot.

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8:19am: First vote cast in NA-35, Bannu, however our correspondent reports that people’s response to the by-election so far in the area isn’t much encouraging.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had vacated the NA-35 seat and PTI, MMA and an independent candidate are the key contestants.

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8:00am: The polling time for by-elections has begun.

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