- Candidates include 16,930 males, 882 females, 4 transgenders.
- 648,000 security personnel have been deployed for poll duties.
- 28.74 million voters are age group of 36 to 45 years.
ISLAMABAD: Amid a challenging law and order situation in the country, over 128 million people will exercise their right to vote on Thursday (today) with over 17,000 candidates running for the national and provincial assembly seats in the 2024 general elections, The News reported Thursday.
As per the data shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), a total of 17,816 candidates are in the run, including 12,695 for provincial assemblies and 5,121 for National Assembly seats.
They include 16,930 males, 882 females and four transgender persons. The political parties have fielded 6,031 candidates, including 5,726 males and 275 females. A record number of 11,785 independents are also in the race, including 11,174 males, 607 females and four transgender persons.
According to the ECP, the political parties have fielded 1,873 male and 93 female candidates for 266 general seats of the National Assembly with 3,248 independents, including 3,027 males, 2,019 females and two transgender persons in the fray.
Similarly, there are 12,695 candidates for 593 provincial assembly constituencies, including 12,123 males, 570 women and two transgender persons.
Women form 46% (59.3 million) and men 54% (69.2 million) of the total registered voters. However, more than 56 million young voters between the age brackets of 18-25 and 26-35 years are being seen as potential factor in shaping the legislatures.
The cliffhanger electoral contest will feature 28.74 million voters in the age group of 36 to 45 years.
Those on the premises of a polling station would be allowed to exercise their right to vote after the time is over. The voters will elect the National Assembly members who will then by majority vote choose the next prime minister.
Likewise, the voters will also elect lawmakers to their respective four provincial assemblies, who will then elect the chief ministers.
Over 260 million ballots — half of them green and half white — have already been printed and delivered to the presiding officers by road and air to over 90,000 polling stations under a security cover provided by the police and other law-enforcement agencies.
To ensure the security of voters and polling staff, 648,000 security personnel have been deployed for poll duties, including 137,000 military and 511,000 police personnel. The commission has already issued the election code of conduct.
As many as 90,675 polling stations have been established across the country, out of which more than half have been declared as sensitive or most sensitive.
The army will serve as the third layer of security in Quick Response Force mode; however, two army personnel each will be deployed outside over 18,000 highly sensitive polling stations. Their entry in the polling stations will depend on the requirement of presiding officers.
The counting will begin soon after the voting closes, with tentative results expected to emerge within a few hours. The Election Commission has introduced an Election Management System (EMS) for speedy tabulation of results and expects the new system will function without any problem.
A coalition setup
During the last over five years, for the first time a prime minister had to go home after a no-trust motion. Some prominent politicians, including Imran Khan, Ch Shujaat Hussain, Asfandyar Wali and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, are not contesting owing to different reasons.
Ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif is back from abroad and is looking for his fourth term as the country’s chief executive.
Speculations are rife that in view of the prevailing political and electoral situation, no political party in the Centre may be able to form the government and hence a coalition setup is being predicted after the elections.
Besides the youth, independents are expected to mainly decide the shape of legislatures.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has also fielded its candidates as independents. Their alignment, which according to rules, has to be made within three days after the publication of returned candidates, will be crucial and major political stakeholders will be trying to lure them for support. Of the total 336 members, 169 members can form a simple majority government.
Poll proceedings terminated in 4 constituencies
Owing to the death of contesting candidates, election proceedings have already been terminated in four national and provincial assembly constituencies. These are NA-8 Bajaur, PK-22 Bajaur, PK-91 Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and PP-266 Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab.
In a related development, the Election Commission has taken notice of continuous running of political advertisements, statements and texts on electronic media and has directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to hold all such channels accountable and ensure adherence to Section 182 of the Elections Act 2017 and the commission’s Code of Conduct for National Media.
The commission has reminded Pemra that under Section 182 of the Elections Act, 2017 and the commission’s Code of Conduct for National Media, after 12 midnight on February 6, there is a ban on the election campaign, advertisements and other written material on electronic and print media and strict action should be taken against the channels violating this ban.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission spokesman has said the commission has suspended an officer of the Information Group Pir Suleman Shah Rashdi for violation of the code of conduct and misconduct by issuing a video message for support of a particular political party’s candidates. However, he added the officer will be able to draw his salary, allowances and other benefits during his suspension.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has announced that the internet service would continue uninterrupted countrywide. In a statement, the Authority said there won’t be an internet shutdown on the Election Day.