I voted at NA-246 and this is what I saw

Published: April 23, 2015

When I stepped inside the polling station, I was really surprised to see the arrangements. PHOTO: SIDRA AYAZ

I am very excited today. The exhilaration, the thrill of being part of something greater has made me very eager for today’s by-election. And I am not the only one. Every person whose vote belongs to NA-246 is excited today.

It is common knowledge that the NA-246 constituency of Karachi is a bastion of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). But this time, the interesting involvement of leaders like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) ameer Sirajul Haq has turned this simple by-election of one seat into an electoral battlefield of national importance.

When I stepped inside the polling station, I was really surprised to see the arrangements: voters were queued in a proper line, police officers were checking CNICs of every single person, mobile-phones were not allowed and not just one, but five to six rangers were present inside the polling booth. Also, this was perhaps the first time in the history of our country that security cameras were used inside the polling station.

However, apart from this, many residents complained that their vote was not registered in NA-246 despite the fact they belonged to this constituency. Also, a lot of people complained that they were not allowed to vote because their CNICs were expired. Even those with receipts of renewed CNICs were not allowed to vote, whereas, as per the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), people with expired CNICs are allowed to cast their vote.

So, despite all these problems, the residents of Karachi’s NA-246 began casting their votes from 8am.

Here are some pictures of all that I witnessed when I went to vote at NA-246:

An old woman, dressed in MQM’s flag colours, coming to vote.

MQM’s election camp at Jinnah ground.

An empty election camp of PTI.

A cute MQM supporter, standing outside the polling station.

People waiting for their turn to go inside the polling station.

Police officers checking people outside.

A female rangers officer checking a woman’s handbag outside the polling station

Food arriving for the presiding officers at the station.

Residents coming to collect their voting cards from MQM’s camp.

MQM’s female polling camp.

People standing outside the polling booth with their original CNICs and voting cards.

People lined up outside the polling booth.

A Ranger officer checking the CNIC of a female voter.

A woman casting her vote inside the polling booth.

A rangers officer checking the voting card of a resident at the polling booth.

An elderly man casting his vote as a ranger looks on.

Women and children inside the polling booth.

A young MQM supporter poses with the victory sign.

At least 12 candidates are participating in the by-election of NA-246, but Kanwar Naveed Jamil (MQM), Imran Ismail (PTI) and Rashid Nasim (JI) are in a neck-to-neck competition for the national assembly seat vacated by MQM’s former MNA Nabil Gabol.

In my opinion, I have voted for the right candidate. Let’s hope for the best. Fingers crossed!

All photos: Sidra Ayaz

Sidra Ayaz

Sidra Ayaz

A web sub-editor at Express news. She tweets @SidraAyaz (twitter.com/SidraAyaz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.