PESHAWAR: Polling for provincial assembly seat, PK-8 Peshawar, was held peacefully under the supervision of army on Thursday as turnout remained low especially at the women polling stations.
The seat fell vacant after the death of Arbab Akbar Hayat, who belonged to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Army troops were deployed at polling stations on the request of Election Commission of Pakistan.
Total 15 candidates contested the by-polls. Major political parties including Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Awami National Party, Pakistan People’s Party, Quami Watan Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz took part in the by-elections.
The number of registered voters in PK-8 is 136,508, but turnout was very low though candidates had carried out hectic campaign. PTI chairman Imran Khan had also addressed an election rally in Peshawar despite receiving notice from ECP. Administration had invoked Section 144 in the area to maintain law and order. Tight security arrangements were taken at all 98 polling stations and two to three soldiers of the army and police were deployed in and outside the polling stations. Only voters were provided access to the polling booths to cast their vote. Polling staff also expelled polling agents of different candidates from polling stations. Counting of votes was started after 5pm.
A leader of the opposition party expressed satisfaction over arrangements for the by-polls and said that voters cast their vote in a peaceful atmosphere. He said that polling staff was cooperative and did not allow voters to take their cellular phones to the polling booths. However, polling was suspended briefly at few polling stations owing to disputes among the rival candidates.
Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2016