Voting is underway today (Sunday) for the first phase of local government elections in 14 districts from four divisions of Sindh.
The polling began at 8am and will continue until 5pm without any pause.
The 14 districts where voting is underway include Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparkar.
Elections in the rest of Sindh will be held on July 24.
At least 21,298 candidates are in the field against 6,277 seats of 101 town committees, 23 municipal committees, 14 districts councils, four municipal corporations, eleven town municipal corporations and 887 union councils and union committees.
The election commission has established 9,023 polling stations, including 1,895 for women, to facilitate over 11 million registered voters.
According to a spokesperson of the Election Commission of Pakistan, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja is monitoring the polling process in the province.
Meanwhile, monitoring cells have been established in Islamabad and at the office of the Sindh election commissioner to ensure transparent elections, the spokesperson added.
In addition to this, at least 1,985 polling stations have been declared highly sensitive and 3,448 sensitive. Paramilitary Rangers and police have been deployed at 2,980 highly sensitive polling stations across the province.
CCTV cameras have been installed at the most sensitive polling stations.
Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finalized arrangements for the elections.
The polling will go ahead as planned after the Sindh High Court (SHC) dismissed the petitions filed by MQM-P and PTI against holding local bodies elections in Sindh without completion of delimitation.
The parties had submitted in their petitions that the ECP had issued notifications for holding the LG elections in two phases on June 26 and July 26 without completing the due electoral process.
They had argued that impugned notifications were against the Supreme Court decision in which various vires of the local government act had been declared ultra vires of Article 140 A of the Constitution.
The SHC’s division bench comprising Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Amjad Ali Sahito after hearing the arguments of the parties, for a reason to be recorded, later on, dismissed the petitions.
The election commission, in a statement, said that the armed forces and Rangers personnel will patrol all the constituencies where elections are to be held — before and during the electoral process.
The commission said it was in contact with the army, Rangers, and other law enforcement agencies, all of whom have assured full cooperation.
The electoral body has already directed the Sindh government to deploy additional police force from other districts to the areas where elections will take place to ensure the holding of peaceful polls and has been assured of implementation.
The election commission said it would monitor the electoral process before and on the polling day while all the relevant quarters, including the Interior Ministry, would assist it.
ECP said its offices would remain open on Saturday and Sunday and it would be possible to contact its central and provincial control rooms. Moreover, the ECP added police will provide security to the presiding officers and stay with the polling staff till the completion of the polling process.
The election commission said the presiding officers have been issued instructions to keep their location on while taking snapshots of Form 45 and send it to the returning officer in the presence of polling agents.
In case of no Internet connectivity, the presiding officer will submit an original copy to the returning officer besides showing him the snapshot with forensic details, including time and location.
The ECP has also told the candidates that their polling agents should not leave the polling station without a copy of Form 45 duly signed by the presiding officer.