MULTAN - The polling for by-elections to two national assembly constituencies of Multan NA-148 and 149 will take place today (Saturday) as Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has finalized all arrangements for the big day. The polling will start at 8:00 am and continue till 5:00 pm without any interval. The ECP has established a total of 514 polling stations in both the constituencies out of which 219 are set up in NA-148 and 295 in NA-149. As many as 219 presiding officers have been deployed by the ECP to conduct election in NA-148 and 295 in NA-149.

The NA-148 and 149 seats were vacated by Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi respectively as they tendered resignations from national assembly membership after quitting their parties.

Strict security arrangements are being made by the district administration to ensure peaceful atmosphere for the polling as 4500 police troops and five companies of rangers will guard the polling premises. A notification issued by the district administration announced imposition of Section 144 in and around 200 meter radius of all polling stations of both the constituencies for the polling. Administrator city district government Mudassar Riaz Malik issued the notification for enforcement of Section 144, stating that there will be a ban on carrying or brandishing arms on the polling day and no one will be permitted entry to the polling stations without body search. Similarly, the city district administration has issued another notification, declaring that only computerized national identity cards will be accepted at the polling stations. The notification said that the decision to accept only computerized identity cards was made by the ECP and no one would be allowed to cast his or her vote on old card.

Earlier, the election campaign ended on the night between Thursday and Friday as all the candidates held their last public meetings to show their strength. With the end of the campaign, a new phase of electioneering in terms of door to door contact with the voters, meetings with influential and opinion leaders started on Friday.  Similarly, the candidates arranged transport for the polling day while their workers decorated streets and roads with the party flags, banners and pamphlets.

It may not be out of place to mention here that the NA-148 seat was won by PPP in 2008 elections and now prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani's son Ali Moosa is contesting election on PPP ticket while PML (N) has nominated Abdul Ghaffar Dogar as its candidate. In all nine candidates will be in the run for this seat.

Similarly, a total of 18 candidates are vying for the NA-149 seat. This seat was won by PML (N) candidate Makhdoom Javed Hashmi in last election. Now the party ticket is given to former mayor Sheikh Tariq Rasheed while he will face Malik LIaqat Dogar of PPP. Mr. Dogar has been MNA from the same constituency in the past.