IN a densely populated country where citizens are counted in tens of millions, the figures coming out of the polls in Balochistan are bizarre. The most remarkable is PB-41, Awaran, where voter turnout was a mere 1.18 per cent and the candidate that won had to take just 544 votes, with the runner-up coming in at 95. Only 672 of the 57,666 people registered to vote in the constituency actually did so. Similarly, in PB-50, Kech, the seat was won with just 1,385 votes, with 1,331 going to the politician who came in second. The other seven candidates collectively polled the ludicrous figure of 994 votes. Even where the figures are higher, the turnout in Balochistan is remarkably below the national average. This is true even if the demographics and the security situation are factored in. The turnout in PB-46, Kharan, for example, was relatively high but still, of the 45,176 registered voters, only 14,611 cast votes and the seat was won with just 3,418 votes.
It had been expected that the turnout in Balochistan would be low but these figures are shocking. Polling was disrupted or could not take place at all at a number of polling stations because of lack of staff and/or balloting material. Also, militants had announced that they would impede the election process; the moderate nationalist parties that contested did so in face of the militants’ ire. What the ECP must do now is to investigate the numbers and ascertain how many polling stations were dysfunctional, and why. If more than 50 per cent of the polling stations are found to have been off-line, perhaps a re-poll should be considered with security beefed up more than previously, since that is far from a level playing field.