PESHAWAR: Polling was held in 23 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the local government by-elections, mostly on the vacant seats in the lower tier, amid tight security on Sunday.
The polling continued in a peaceful environment from 8:00am to 5:00pm as no untoward incident was reported. Elections were held on 361 vacant seats, including seven of the district council, eight of tehsil councils and the remaining for vacant seats of different categories in the 139 village and neighbourhood councils.
According to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013, elections to the village and neighbourhood councils were held on non-party basis and that for the district and tehsil councils on party basis.
As many as 828 candidates contested the by-elections, including 443 for the general seats, 200 for women’s reserved seats, 56 for peasants/workers, 47 for youths and four the reserved seats for non-Muslims. Similarly, 35 candidates participated in the elections for the district council and 43 for tehsil councils in the province.
According to official data of the Election Commission of Pakistan, 574 candidates have been elected unopposed/uncontested and these included 61 on general seats in village and neighbourhood councils, 467 women on reserved seats, four peasants/workers, eight youths and three on seats for non-Muslims.
However, 3,560 seats still remain vacant in the village and neighbourhood councils across the province after the Sunday’s elections as no candidate had filed nomination papers for contesting elections on these seats. Of the total vacant seats, 3,010 are for non-Muslims, 542 for women, and one each for youth and peasants/workers.
PML-N wins both district council seats in Mansehra
The 3,010 reserved seats for non-Muslims couldn’t be filled as no one from them was present in the respective councils, according to sources in the ECP. Regarding the unfilled seats for women, they said that due to cultural barriers women were not taking interest in the elections.
They said that the turnout was low as people usually showed less interest in the by-elections. They said that polling was conducted in a peaceful environment as the ECP had not received any report about violence or mishap till end of the polling process.
In Peshawar, by-elections were held in five village and neighbourhood councils, including three village councils located in Mattani ward and one in Surizai Bala, and one neighbourhood council in Shaheen Muslim Town.
Returning Officer Ahmad Kamal told Dawn that by-elections were conducted peacefully. He said that a large number of police personnel were deployed in and outside the polling stations while army personnel were patrolling in the respective areas.
Zuhra Bibi won the lone vacant seat for women in Shaheen Muslim Town neighbourhood council, while Asad Khan emerged as winner on the general seat in Surizai Bala village council. For holding by-elections, 4,341 polling officials were deployed at 609 polling stations, including 160 for men, 146 for women and 303 combined.
In Mansehra, PML-N clinched two district councillors’ seats in the local government by-elections.
Sheryar Khan, the nephew of Senator Azam Khan Swati, retained his seat in the by-elections. He had earlier resigned as district councillor from Khattai union council after floor crossing from PTI to PML-N. He contested the election on PML-N ticket and secured 2,243 votes.
Javed Salar of PML-N secured 2,883 votes and was elected district councillor from Hilkot union council. His rival Shah Qabool, an independent contender, could get 1,715 votes.
In Timergara, the Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party and Qaumi Watan Party won one tehsil council seat each at Sultankhel Payan ward, Toormang-1 and Kotigram in Lower Dir in the by-elections.
The winners included Hayat Khan of JI, Malik Aftab of ANP and Tauseef Umar of QWP.
In Upper Dir, JI candidate Inayatullah defeated Asadullah in ward Kotkay by-elections for the district council seat. Inayatullah secured 1,453 votes and Asadullah of PPP 1,385 votes.
Begum Bibi got 566 to defeat Shabana (209 votes) in the village council Wari, while candidate for Almas village council Belhuda got 313 votes won the election for the general councillor’s seat.
In Mingora, by-elections were held on 347 vacant seats in seven union councils amid tight security.
Polling was held for all the seats in six union councils and for labour/peasant seat in one union council of Swat district. A total of 107 candidates contested the elections for which 24 polling stations were established.
Of the 138 women councillors 46 were elected unopposed. Similarly, of 48 general councillors eight returned unopposed. One youth councillor was also elected unopposed. There were 197 vacant seats of non-Muslims, while only two candidates contested the elections and one was elected unopposed. The remaining 195 minority seats are still vacant.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2016