Voting ended in the fiercely contested NA-246 in Karachi without any untoward event. There were a few reports of voters facing difficulty in casting votes but overall the voting was conducted in a peaceful environment without any major complaints from the three main parties contesting the election, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Goodwill gestures were shown by all parties, with MQM’s Haider Abbas Rizvi and PTI’s Imran Ismail sharing a cup of tea in the evening as the early morning tension fizzled out. A total of 213 polling stations were set up with 769 polling booths, the number of registered voters in NA-246 are 357, 861. 2,556 policemen were deployed; in addition to that Rangers personnel were also deployed at almost all polling stations.
By-elections are usually a somber affair as compared to the general elections but the involvement of MQM chief Altaf Hussain, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Ameer JI Sirajul Haq made the lead up to the by election a fierce affair. The election was never a contest for the winning slot, MQM were expected to win in their stronghold of Azizabad. However, PTI has emerged as clear runners up beating JI. MQM remains the strongest party in Karachi but PTI is also emerging as a political force in the city. The peaceful environment in which the election was conducted owes a lot to Rangers. The deployment of Rangers boosted the confidence of voters and at the same times pacified fears of rigging. Election Commission of Pakistan however failed on many fronts, the major aspect being the non implementation of the biometric system. The by election presented a good opportunity for ECP to test the system in which they failed. There are plenty of positives to take from the by election and it marks yet another step towards the strengthening of electoral system.