ISLAMABAD: Though the days leading up to July 25 elections were marred by terrorist attacks and security threats, polling day remained relatively peaceful with a few scattered incidents of violence reported from various parts of the country, resulting in the deaths of two persons and injuries to over 60 others.
During the election campaign, a number of terrorist attacks on election rallies and public meetings took place in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which over 170 people, including three candidates, lost their lives. On the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the caretaker governments at the Centre and in the provinces had taken special security measures in the light of the warnings of terror attacks by the security agencies and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta).
Most of the incidents of election-related violence were reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces. Only a few reports of minor scuffles between the workers of various political parties were received from Punjab whereas apart from a deadly terrorist attack in Quetta in which over 30 people were killed, very few incidents of poll-related violence were reported from Balochistan.
A PTI worker Shahzeb died after a guard of Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Amir Rehman in Swabi allegedly opened fire on him after having an exchange of heated arguments.
Police booked the ANP candidate and his guard on murder charges.
Caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Dost Mohammad Khan took notice of the firing incident and directed the district administration to furnish a report about it immediately.
In another unfortunate incident in Charsadda, a close relative of a Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) candidate was shot dead during a clash with ANP workers. Shiraz Mohmand, the cousin of QWP candidate Babar Ali Mehmud, received multiple bullet wounds during the clash soon after completion of the polling process. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
In Kohistan, 12 people suffered critical injuries in a clash between supporters of two local alliances. Members of both groups attacked each other with clubs and daggers on a petty issue of allowing a person to poll his vote out of turn. The polling also remained suspended in the polling station for sometime on the orders of the returning officer. The injured were taken to the nearby hospital, where the condition of two is stated to be critical.
The reports of clashes between workers of political parties, including the PPP and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), were reported from Dadu, Khairpur, Karachi, Sanghar and Larkana in Sindh.
Clashes between GDA and PPP supporters left several injured at a women polling station in Khipro (NA-216) in Sanghar.
A cracker was thrown by some unidentified people at the election office of PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in Larkana, resulting in the injuries to four people. The polling also remained suspended in the polling station for some time.
In Karachi, the camp office of an independent candidate and human rights activists Jibran Nasir in Delhi Colony was vandalized allegedly by the activists of a religious group.
SSP Omar Shahid, however, claimed that a police party was immediately dispatched to the spot after Jibran Nasir’s complaint but there was no sign of vandalism.
As many as five people were injured in clashes between political workers in Sahiwal and Kot Radha Kashan in Punjab. There were also reports of scuffles in Rawalpindi and Chiniot.
In Balochistan, two people were injured when a polling station at Ropashakh Akbar area in Naseerabad came under attack by unidentified people.
Similarly, two people were injured in a firing incident near a polling station in Dera Murad Jamali in Balochistan.
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018