PESHAWAR, May 11: Taliban-dominated peace committee hijacked the election show in NA-41, South Waziristan Agency, on Saturday after expelling polling agents of 33 candidates, including that of Awami National Party, from polling stations.
The polling, however, remained peaceful in all the seven tribal agencies and six Frontier Regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the turnout was impressive in the region except troubled Orakzai Agency.
Taliban made announcements in Miramshah and other parts of North Waziristan Agency on Friday night, asking people not to allow women to cast their votes. Women were also not allowed to exercise their right to vote in Orakzai.
However, a large number of women polled votes in South Waziristan, Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand and Frontier Regions. Elections have been postponed in NA-38, Kurram Agency, due to disturbance in central sub-division of the area.
Reports said that Taliban allowed polling agents of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), two independent candidates; Mohammad Ali and Naseerullah Khan, to stay at the polling stations in NA-41. However, polling agents of some candidates, including ANP’s Ayaz Wazir, were asked to leave polling stations.
Ayaz Wazir told Dawn that security forces and officials of the political administration were absent and left polling stations at the mercy of Taliban and Khasadars. “My agents were forced to leave polling stations in the morning,” he alleged. A resident of Wana said that Taliban had expelled polling agents of some candidates from polling stations because they did not pay Rs70,000 security fee. He said that armed volunteers of the Taliban-led Shura were providing security at polling stations in Wana and other areas.
“In fact candidates were short-listed in NA-41,” complained another resident of Wana while requesting not to be named. Women polled their votes in South Waziristan. Rush was witnessed at polling stations.
Details about polling in Spinkai Raghzai, Chegmalai and Sararogha of NA-42, the Mehsud tribe-dominated constituency of South Waziristan, could not be obtained because of unavailability of telecommunication facilities in the area.
Polling remained peaceful in NA-40, North Waziristan Agency, and voters cast their vote. Taliban barred women from polling in North Waziristan and polling stations set up for them were seen deserted. Even female polling staff did not reach polling stations.
Reports said that turnout remained very impressive in Bajaur Agency where a female candidate Badam Zarai was contesting elections. Voters, particularly youngsters, made long queues at the polling stations waiting for their turn. Extensive security arrangements were made at both constituencies in Bajaur and people ignored threats. Women also polled votes.
Polling was held in peaceful atmosphere in Mohmand Agency and both men and women cast their votes. Remarkable rush of voters was witnessed at polling stations at Ghalanai and other areas of Mohmand. Situation in NA-37, Kurram Agency, remained peaceful and moderate rush of voters was observed there. Army, Frontier Corps and Levies personnel were deployed heavily in the area and voters cast their vote in safe atmosphere.
Polling for NA-45 in Khyber Agency remained peaceful as thousands of voters, including women, turned up at the polling stations both in Landi Kotal and Jamrud.
Elderly and handicapped men and women were seen on wheelchairs coming to the polling stations while young voters also showed enthusiasm in casting vote. Overall situation at Landi Kotal and Jamrud remained under control as security forces conducted regular patrolling of over one hundred polling stations in NA-45.
Arrangements inside polling stations were also to the satisfaction of most of the voters and contesting candidates and voters faced no obstruction in casting their votes.
In Jamrud, some candidates accused their opponents of obstructing female voting, but the issue was resolved after the intervention of local authorities. Polling at Jalozai and Shah Kas was suspended for about two hours after some candidates raised objections over anomalies in the voters list. Supporters of some candidates in Shah Kas ransacked some polling stations after they found their names missing from the voters list.