PESHAWAR: Six people were killed while 47 injured in clashes throughout on Saturday as the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed mismanagement, poor security measures and conflicts between different rival groups in different parts of the province which hampered the polling process.
Sources said that three people were killed in Charsada, two in DI khan and another lost his life during clashes in Kohat.
Polling for the largest LG elections in the history of KP took place across the province 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.
Various people received injuries when unknown assailants opened firing on two polling stations of females in Union Council Naspa and Regai areas. The injured persons were rushed to hospital where their condition was stated as stable, police told.
Similarly, clashes between rival groups and exchange of firing were also reported from different polling stations of Madran, Swat, Kohat, DI Khan and Nowshera districts and Malakand and Hazara divisions, while in district Swabi the security was handed over to security forces after severe clashes between two rival groups.
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.
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. Some ballot papers were found in Peshawar which were already stamped.
The deputy commissioner of Nowshera confirmed that angry workers of some political parties put the ballot papers on fire in reaction to alleged rigging during polling process, adding that security forces were summoned to control the situation besides supervising the polling and balloting process.
The officials of provincial election commission confirmed that the polling process was hampered on various polling stations in different districts, adding the time for balloting would not be extended after 5pm.
Women participation in LG polls
KP Minister for Local Government Inayatullah Khan said participation of women in the LG polls in the province was higher than the last general elections.
He said women had been encouraged to exercise their right to vote and they turned up in a good number for selecting their representatives at the grassroots level.
To a question about some reports that in certain localities of KP women were barred from casting votes, he said “forcibly, neither women can be taken out for votes nor stopped from exercising their legitimate right.”
When asked about reported mismanagement at some polling stations, Inayatullah termed the LG polls a 'big exercise' carried out after around a 10-year break.
“No doubt that there were problems but not to that extent where legitimacy of the elections become questionable,” he said.
The minister said the provincial government had extended all possible facilities to the polling staff for smooth, free and fair elections.
An unprecedented 84,000 candidates were in the run for village, neighbourhood, district and tehsil councils. An unprecedented 7,681 women were in the run for 6,678 seats, though many of them 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 expectedly exercised their right of vote in the LG polls.
Each voter cast seven votes in the local body polls, for which 72.2 million ballot papers were printed.
Ballots papers for the district council general seats were orange, grey for tehsil councils and white for village councils. Similarly, the ballot papers for women seats were pink, light green for peasants, yellow for youth and brown for minorities.
Of the 11,211 polling stations, 3,428 were for men, 3,059 for women and 4,724 combined.
The elections did 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 had 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 were deputed at polling stations across the province.
According to the ECP, 88,420 candidates were running for the elections.
Of them, 77,033 were 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 were 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.