ISLAMABAD - By-elections on 11 national and 24 provincial assemblies’ seats in different parts of the country are going to be held today.

Once again the key battleground between the two major players – ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – is Punjab where eight national and 11 Punjab assembly seats are up for grabs.

These elections have acquired special significance in the face of thin majority of the ruling PTI both in federal and the Punjab governments, and some major upsets in these elections could plunge the ruling alliance in difficult situation.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has completed preparations. Around 51,235 polling staff would perform duties in today’s election and key feature of these polls is that for the first time overseas Pakistanis would also participate in balloting.

In all, some 99.247 lakh ballot papers were printed and Pakistan Army personnel were in lead role in their transmission to the polling stations.

As many as 7,489 polling stations have been set up, out of which 1,727 were declared sensitive. The security of polling stations would be in the hands of Armed Forces personnel both inside and outside the polling stations while civil law administration officials would be assisting them in accomplishing the task of maintenance of law and order.

According to the details provided by the ECP a total of 645 candidates are in the arena for these 35 national and provincial assemblies seats.

But, as said earlier, the main contest would be between ruling PTI and main opposition party PML-N and the result of these elections would have deep imprints on both federal and Punjab government.

Political analysts said that though the results of these elections would not bring any major change in the numbers but the results would definitely have impact on the public perception about these parties.

The victory of PTI would be taken as an expression of people’s confidence in its governments’ decisions taken in first couple of months while securing of more seats by PML-N in Punjab would definitely give a boost to their stance of PTI’s incapability to run govern effectively and they would play on it in coming days and months.

The analysts said that both PTI and PML-N are going in these by-polls with their own advantages and disadvantages and now it was up to the masses with whom they go.

The PTI summersaults on policy matters and the decision to approach International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailout package to support the ailing economy, abnormal increase in fuel prices and overall increase in the prices of essential commodities are some of the issues that could hit the PTI adversely.

On the other hand, the lacklustre campaign of PML-N, the arrest of party chief Shehbaz Sharif by NAB and complete silence of Nawaz Sharif could be listed on the negative side of the opposition party and these factors could harm its electoral performance.

It is a general perception in the PML-N that a few public addresses by Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz for the by-polls candidates could have brought things much easier but they were still confident of giving surprise to the ruling alliance.

By and large in the by-elections the candidates belonging to the parties in power have edge over their opponents as usually people would go to the candidates in power but the history is replete with examples where the candidates from opposition parties had turned the tables on their opponents in by-polls.

In these by-polls some of the contests have acquired special significance and some public mobilisation was also witnesses in the constituencies where the heavyweights from different parties were in contest.

Both the constituencies of Lahore NA-131 and NA-124 are under spotlight because Kh Saad Rafique of PML-N is again in the run against PTI’s Hamayun Akhtar. Earlier he had lost this seat with a thin margin to PTI Chairman Imran Khan - who later vacated this seat.

NA-124 has acquired significance because PML-N has fielded former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from here. The seat was considered a PML-N stronghold and was vacated by party’s central leader Hamza Shahbaz Sharif who won it in July 25 elections with good margin. Abbasi is facing PTI candidate Ghulam Mahiuddin, a relatively not very well known figure.

NA-69 (Gujrat) constituency become significant as Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi’s scion Moonis Elahi is contesting on the seat vacated by his father. His cousin Salik Hussain, son of Ch Shujaat Hussain, is also in the arena from NA-65 (Chakwal), another seat vacated Pervaiz Elahi. On both these seats the Chaudhries of Gujrat are in an advantageous position.

After July 25 elections, PTI had vacated six National Assembly seats – four by Imran Khan and one each by Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Major(r) Tahir Sadiq. Besides these seats, two National Assembly seats were vacated by Pervaiz Elahi, and one by Hamza Shahbaz.

Election on NA-60, Rawalpindi, and NA-103, Faisalabad, had been postponed due to conviction of PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi and suicide of one of the contesting candidates, respectively.

The vacated National Assembly seats include NA-35 Bannu, NA-53 Islamabad, NA-131 Lahore, NA-243 Karachi, NA-65 Chakwal, NA-69 Gujrat, NA-56 Attock, NA-63 Taxila and NA-124 Lahore.

There are 11 provincial assembly seats in Punjab on which by-elections will be held. They include PP-3 Attock, PP-27 Jhelum, PP-87 Mianwali, PP-103 Faisalabad, PP-118 Toba Tek Singh, PP-164 and PP-165, Lahore, PP-201 Sahiwal, PP-222 Multan, PP-261 Rahim Yar Khan, PP-272 Muzaffargarh, PP-292 Dera Ghazi Khan and PP-296 Rajanpur.

Some nine provincial assembly seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on which by-elections will be held include PK-3 and PK-7 Swat, PK-44 Swabi, PK-53 Mardan, PK-61 and 64 Nowshera, PK-78 Peshawar and PK-97 and PK-99 Dera Ismail Khan.

Two provincial assembly constituencies each from Sindh and Balochistan where by-polls will be held include PS-87 Malir and PS-87 Khairpur; and PB-35 Mastung and PB-40 Khuzdar respectively.