PTI’s independents lead in neck-to-neck competition with rivals from PML-N, IPP


Commonwealth observers review polling process in NA-47

Voting for Islamabad’s three constituencies NA-46, 47 and 48 concluded peacefully and smoothly Thursday evening with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘independent’ candidates in neck-to-neck competition with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) aspirants.

By the time of filing this report, Amir Masood Mughal, Muhammad ShoaibShaheen and Ali Bukhari were reportedly leading in NA-46, 47 and 48 respectively. However, AnjumAqeel Khan of the PML-N was in close competition with Amir Mughal in NA-46 while former Federal Minister Dr Tariq FazalChaudhry of the PML-N was chasing Mohammad ShoaibShaheen in the NA-47. From NA-48, Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party’s (IPP) Raja Khurram Nawaz though put up a tough fight yet Ali Bukhari of the PTI was leading till late hours.

Meanwhile, a 25-member delegation of Commonwealth Observers Group (COG) visited different polling stations of NA-47 constituency in Islamabad on Thursday morning.

The delegation expressed satisfaction that the polling process is smooth and transparent. Amid ongoing electoral process across the country and recent suspension of mobile phone networks, COG head DrGoodluckEbele Jonathan stressed that “casting votes are more important than internet services.”

The statement from the former Nigerian president Dr Jonathan, who is leading a 25-member COG delegation comprising journalists and experts, came after the foreign observers visited different polling stations to inspect the ongoing electoral process.

The COG delegation visited the polling stations of NA-47 and expressed satisfaction over the polling process besides declaring it fair and transparent.

The commonwealth group of experts arrived in Pakistan at the invitation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to inspect nationwide voting exercise.

Dr Jonathan said that his team was satisfied with the polling process during the Pakistan general elections. “Before the invention of the internet, we were holding polls and voting was more important than the internet,” he added. He further said, “Voting process does not require internet, however, the suspension of internet services would only create trouble while posting the poll results.”

It is noteworthy to mention that cellular and internet services were suspended in several parts of the country, including major cities like Islamabad, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and others amid polling.

The spokesperson to the interior ministry confirmed the development and said that a temporary suspension of mobile phone services has been decided across Pakistan citing loss of lives in recent terrorist incidents.

It was necessary to take special measures to cope with the security threats and maintenance of law and order, the spokesperson added.

The COG’s mandate, as set out in the Revised Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries, is to observe and evaluate all aspects of the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period, according to an official statement issued by the global association of 56-member state on February 4.

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