Authorities have told The Nation that 52 polling stations out of 283 in the NA-122 by-elections have been declared sensitive. Extraordinary measures will be necessary to avoid bloodshed between PTI and PML-N supporters. Clashes between the PML-N and the PTI are nothing new, but need to be monitored and contained by the higher leadership of the parties. Election time should not prompt the fear of bloodshed, and the blame for this is on the party workers themselves.

A PTI worker Haq Nawaz was killed allegedly by the PML-N activists in Faisalabad during violent when Imran Khan called for shutting down the city to support traders demand to cut the loadshedding in December 2014. Another PTI worker Abdul Ghaffar Gujjar, who was his candidate for local bodies’ polls in Union Council-124, was also allegedly killed by local PML-N cadres during the election drive in Garhi Shahu police precincts last month. The PML-N claimed that Gujjar was in-fact their worker. One would expect the law enforcement authorities to keep a check on the situation, but they too are divided along party lines. This terrible stalemate between the PTI and PML-N, rather than creating competition for better services, is creating competition among thugs. The point of the elections should be that citizens safely manage to vote for their choice, rather than the added burden that the elections happen without injury and death.

Even though there will be re-election in NA-144 of Okara and PP-147 of Lahore as well, NA-122 is the dominant front for the two parties. With PTI losing all six by-elections following the dharna, and that too with an increase in the margin of defeat in all the cases as compared to 2013, the NA-122 contest is one of high stakes.

The remaining 231 polling stations fall in “Category B” which indicates the vote process is expected to be smooth but might face minor clashes in some areas. No polling station falls under “Category C” which means the polling process would not face any threat by the candidates’ supporters. This just goes to show how immature party politics is in Pakistan. This kind of behaviour by the dominant parties only lends support to the unfortunately popular argument that Pakistanis are not ready for democracy.