PESHAWAR: Polling for the largest local government (LG) elections in the history of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) took place across the province on Saturday in which citizens voted to elect 41,762 councilors in the three tiers of local councils.
Strict security arrangements were made to ensure a smooth polling process with some 86,115 security personnel deployed at the polling stations. However, due to a poor law and order situation across the province, polling in various stations was suspended.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, a total of 11,211 polling stations were established in 24 districts of the province except Kohistan.
Out of the 11,211 polling stations 2,837 have been declared highly sensitive, 3,940 sensitive and 4,340 normal.
Polling was suspended in a number of stations in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Swat and Nowshera and others after ballot boxes and windows were broken. Security forces were unable to control the situation and polling was suspended. Ballot papers were found in Peshawar which were already stamped.
Inspector-General Police Nasir Khan Durrani took notice of the incidents and ordered a First Information Report (FIR) to be recorded in areas where weapons were fired or ballot boxes were broken.
Aerial firing took place at polling stations in Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat and various other polling stations across KP. Three people were injured in Kohat and a number of others in different parts of the province. The over all law and order situation in the province was poor doing the ongoing elections. A display of weapons was also seen across polling stations in KP.
Due to a delayed turnout of election staff, there were complications in the voting process. Many voters took long to cast their votes due to lack of awareness, and this led to over-crowding in various polling stations.
Women barred from voting in various polling stations
Women could not cast their votes in today's LG polls in Shangla district after a local Jirga barred them from voting. The women were barred from voting in other areas such as Lower Dir, Buner and some parts of Swabi.
A female presiding officer in a polling station in Kohat was suspended after she allegedly allowed the casting of multiple votes for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) during the ongoing by-polls.
After female voters reported the presiding officer, assistant commissioner Kohat Ali Asghar suspended the presiding officer and her duties were allotted to assistant presiding officer Sanjida Bibi.
An unprecedented 84,000 candidates are in the run for village, neighbourhood, district and tehsil councils. An unprecedented 7,681 women are in the run for 6,678 seats, though many of them have returned unopposed.
A little over four years after the Awami National Party-led coalition government dissolved the local bodies in the erstwhile North-West Frontier Province, more than 13.1 million people will exercise their right of vote in the LG polls today.
Each voter will cast seven votes in the local body polls, for which 72.2 million ballot papers have been printed.
Ballots papers for the district council general seats are orange, grey for tehsil councils and white for village councils. Similarly, the ballot papers for women seats are pink, light green for peasants, yellow for youth and brown for minorities.
Of the 11,211 polling stations, 3,428 are for men, 3,059 for women and 4,724 combined.
The elections will not take place in Kohistan as the district’s bifurcation has been challenged in the Peshawar High Court.
The highest number of 1,003 polling stations has been established in Peshawar, including 518 for men, 439 for women and 46 combined.
Similarly, 11,403 presiding officers, 95,646 assistant presiding officers and 31,882 polling officers have been deputed at polling stations across the province.
According to the ECP, 88,420 candidates are in the running for the elections.
Of them, 77,033 are contesting for village and neighbourhood councils, including 39,079 for general seats, 15,700 for peasants, 14,224 for youths, 7,681 for women and 349 for non-Muslims.
Similarly, 5,480 candidates are contesting for the general seats of district councils and 5907 for tehsil councils.
The last provincial government had dissolved local councils on February 20, 2010 after the completion of their tenure. Afterwards, administrators replaced nazims of those bodies.
The last local government elections took place in February 2005.