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Voters provided transport despite ban

May 12, 2013

TAXILA, May 11: Despite the ban on transportation of voters, candidates in Taxila and Wah Cantonment openly provided vehicles to their voters during polling on Saturday.

However, the candidates adopted a different procedure to avoid action for violating the election commission ban. They hired the vehicles in the names of the supporters and gave the charge of the buses to their close aides or supporters who had managed public gatherings and corner meetings during the last two weeks. It was observed that candidates and their supporters hired cars and vans to mobilise the voters in the far-flung constituencies. This provided a major boost to the transportation business.

It was also observed that majority of the candidates hired mostly cars and Suzuki vans in semi-urban or rural constituencies where no public transport system exists. In the past, public transport vehicles, especially wagons and pickups, were either hired in bulks by political parties or by the candidates to pick up their voters from their homes and transport them to the polling stations and back. The election commission had announced that any candidate found spending money on hiring transport for voters will be disqualified.

“In the past, there was no such condition slapped by the ECP on the candidates so there was freedom to provide transport to the voters openly and we booked vehicles accordingly to need of voters,” said an independent candidate from Wah Cantt. He said if the vehicles were not provided to the voters, it might dent the overall turnout as the ECP did not provide any alternative means to help the voters after banning the sponsoring of transport by the political parties.

Malik Mushtaq, the supporter of a local candidate while talking to this reporter, said provision of transport to the voters, especially women, was necessary to ensure their participation in the electoral process.

Naseer Ahmed, the supporter of another candidate, said the polling stations were established at distant villages and voters needed transport facilities to cast their votes easily. “In other words, providing transport to voters is an assurance to them that we also would serve them after winning the election,” he said. Shahfeeq Ahmed, another supporter, said there were a huge number of women whose votes had been registered at the far-off distance and if there was no public transport it might be difficult for them to cast their votes. He added that most of the women’s votes were registered at their parents’ constituencies and after their marriage they had to travel a long distance to cast their votes and needed transport.

A transport provider who wished not to be named said supporters and candidates had booked air-conditioned cars and Suzuki vans for the polling day. He said majority of the candidates and supporters had demanded vans and pickups and other such vehicles in rural areas while in the city area cars were preferred.

Meanwhile, election was suspended for half an hour at a polling station located in UC Gheela Khurd when the workers of the PTI and the PML attacked each other with sticks and iron rods. Two supporters of both the parties were injured and polling was resumed after police and local administration reached the spot and controlled the situation.—Correspondent