KARACHI: Whether they supported the party they worked for did not matter. It was sort of a picnic for the scores of young men who assisted one party or another as polling agents or helped guide the would-be voters with ‘slips’ of paper that made it convenient for them to cast their votes as they sat under a tent.

They were entertained by their patrons throughout the day. In the morning they had a breakfast, mostly containing an egg-paratha with a cup of tea. In lunch almost all had chicken biryani packed in thermostat boxes. In between they were served with bottled water, cold drinks and other refreshments. So, naturally there was a lot of rush at the eateries and chicken sellers’ shops, some of whom had got advance orders.

But all were not as lucky. Waheed, a PML-N polling agent where I cast my vote in Bhitai Colony, looked dull. It was around 2.30pm. When I asked him if he had had lunch, he gestured with the right hand to say he had got no lunch by that time. “All of them have had their lunch,” he said and motioned to the agents of other parties sitting around him: “But not me. It’s ok, I hope I’ll get it too.” When asked if he had got any breakfast, he again shook his hand to mean “not at all”.

The arrangements were good in the polling station, set up in a known private school, where there were lists showing which section of the school one could go and cast their votes.

Security personnel, including police personnel and private security guards, stood at the gate and inside at certain places. They were also cooperative. They willingly guided the voters to their respective booths.

Generally there was a hustle and bustle in the polling station. There was no booth in the polling station which did not have a queue of voters, but women usually outnumbered male voters. A few couples were also there with small children in tow.

Outside, there were many polling camps. Each camp had around a dozen persons to man it or just to sit and chat. The tent set up by the MMA hardly had five persons and no other person even to inquire about their vote number was seen there. When asked about the lack of enthusiasm at the camp, one of them said: “We have already had our voters cast their ballots.”

Over half a dozen polling stations were set up in the locality, Bhitai Colony, ad­­min­istered by the Korangi Creek Cantonment Board — one in a government dispensary and the others in government and private schools.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018