LAHORE: From 12pm to 2pm, the number of voters, especially women, swelled up at different polling booths in Model Town.
“Many of us are housewives and do household chores in the morning and get free till 12pm,” said a housewife who was in the queue to cast her vote at a polling booth in Ward 6 of UC-207, Model Town where the PTI’s Rafia Kamal stood for seat of general councilor.
“I will be voting for the PTI because change is important and nothing different will come out until we try out a new political party,” said Mrs Shabbir, a housewife, who was standing outside the Sadia Public School which was the polling station.
A voter standing close by slightly disagreed.
“I am not voting because a different party should surface. I am voting for the candidate. Because I feel that Rafia Kamal is a hard working woman and she might perform better in election. But had she been in any other party I would have still voted for her.”
Voter turnout was not as high as expected at the polling station as the candidates said only about 50 percent of the women had turned up.
“A lot has to do with the lists because they are not updated,” said the sister of an independent candidate in the same station.
“Many people on the lists have died or shifted and so they do not come to vote.”
Members of the some families voted for different parities or particular candidates.
“I am a PML-N loyalist but my son is a PTI supporter,” says a woman. “I know it is strange because they are rival parties but that is what it is like at home.” However, in most of cases families agreed upon one party for voting.
In UC-209, Ward 3, whose polling station was also nearby another PTI female candidate stood for general councilor seat, contesting against a PML-N female candidate for the same slot. Sabrina Malik and Naila Najam, though acquaintances, contested for the same position.
Naila sat with her party workers outside the station greeting voters who were walking in to vote. An old woman showed her thumb, saying she had voted for her, getting a smile from Naila. Voters surrounding her camp said they had voted for Naila because she had already been in the managing committee of the Model Town Society and had proven herself to be a ‘hardworking and honest person’.
The turnout at the polling station was extremely low and while the PML-N may have something to worry about the PTI voter is more than smug about it.
“Considering this (Model Town) has always been the PML-N’s area, it is strange that such few people came to vote,” a man said.
The station had only one or two families casting their votes. Yet people had come from as far as Johar Town and even Nisbat Road to use their right to vote.
Though Model Town is an affluent area of Lahore and most voters do not have serious issues there, many say they have problems with using residential areas for commercial purposes, especially schools.
“Traffic and noise is the outcome of these schools,” said Mrs Altaf. “Also the more congested an area is the more it is prone to crimes like burglary and theft. We want our residential areas to be safe and private like they once were.”
A few others complained of gas problems and electricity being expensive but one woman said when there were utility problems and no authority available for help.
“Hopefully, the union council’s new representatives – whoever they are – will be able to solve such problems,” said Shabana.
Sabrina Malik, a candidate for general council seat in UC-209, said it was unfortunate that voter turnout was low but it was expected in a ‘posh area’ where people had everything running smoothly.
“People will come to vote in hoards in the lower socio-economic areas,” she said.
Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2015