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Back to the Polls

by AFP
Asif Hassan—AFP

Asif Hassan—AFP

Repolling at 43 polling stations in NA-250 underway amid tight security.

Hundreds of people queued up at 43 polling stations in a constituency of Karachi on Sunday where a revote had been ordered over allegations of ballot stuffing.

The repoll of an eligible 86,000 voters in a constituency known as NA-250, largely an affluent neighborhood, started at 8 a.m. under tight security involving Army, police and paramilitary rangers.

The voting came a day after three gunmen on a motorbike killed Zahra Hussain, 59, vice president of the women’s wing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in the province of Sindh, outside her home in an upscale part of the city.

PTI chief and former cricket star Imran Khan blamed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, which represents the Urdu-speaking majority, and specifically its boss, Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London.

Karachi was the focus for allegations of fraud during Pakistan’s general elections on May 11 that saw some 50 million Pakistanis vote, with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif emerging the winner nearly 14 years after he was deposed in a coup.

The MQM and Pakistan Peoples Party have already announced they would boycott Sunday’s vote after the Election Commission rejected their demands of a redo for the entire constituency instead of just 43 polling stations.

“We want a change—a real change in our country because we are fed up with the current political set up, which is just disappointing,” said housewife Arifa Aslam as she waited in a long queue at one station to cast her vote.

PTI’s Arif Alvi, who is contesting the election for a National Assembly seat from NA-250, was content with the heavy security presence. “I am quite satisfied with the security arrangements. People are casting their vote without any fear as polling stations are well guarded by security forces,” he said.

The official partial results released on May 14 by the Election Commission gave Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) 123 out of the 272 directly-elected seats while the PPP suffered a crushing defeat, dropping from 95 seats to 31. Khan’s PTI moved into third place on 26 seats compared to none in the last assembly.

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