Vote count underway in violence-marred local government elections in KP

Published December 19, 2021
Officials count votes after polling ended for local government elections in Peshawar. — DawnNewsTV
Officials count votes after polling ended for local government elections in Peshawar. — DawnNewsTV
Voters are seen at a polling station before they cast their vote in the local government elections in KP. — DawnNewsTV
Voters are seen at a polling station before they cast their vote in the local government elections in KP. — DawnNewsTV

The counting of votes is underway after polling ended in local government elections in 17 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that were marred by violence and mismanagement.

The districts where elections were held today are Buner, Bajaur, Swabi, Pesha­war, Nowshera, Kohat, Kar­ak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Tank, Haripur, Khyber, Mohmand, Chars­adda, Mardan, Hangu and Lakki Marwat.

The polling process remained slow, and voters present inside polling stations were allowed to cast their votes beyond the 5pm deadline.

In Takht-e-Nasrati tehsil of Karak, at least two people were killed and three others critically injured in firing carried out at a polling station, according to Rescue 1122. Rescue officials shifted the injured to the Karak District Headquarters Hospital after administering first aid to them.

In Charsadda, meanwhile, a man was wounded after unknown individuals opened fire outside a polling station.

Violence was also reported from Zakhakhel area of the Khyber tribal district, where unidentified individuals entered a polling station and broke ballot boxes, a senior government official told Dawn.com requesting not to be named. He said polling was suspended in 12 polling stations after the men tried to forcibly stop the election.

In the first phase of elections, polling was held for two tiers of the local bodies, while the elections in the remaining 18 districts will take place on Jan 16, 2022.

A total of 19,282 candidates are contesting for the seats of general councillors at 2,359 village councils and neighbourhood councils (VCNCs), while the number of women candidates is 3,905 for the same number of VCNCs.

Similarly, 7,513 candidates are running for peasant/worker seats, 290 for the youth, and 282 for the minority. Besides, 689 candidates are contesting for the seats of mayor or chairman of 63 tehsil councils of KP’s 17 districts.

Amid the polling process, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari fired a broadside at the PTI, saying the party "has sunk to new lows in its attempts to rig local body elections".

He said an ANP candidate was assassinated a day before polling, and that "the members of his family accused PTI minister of first trying to bribe him then killing him." He was referring to the murder of Umar Khitab Sherani on Saturday.

He said representatives of the PTI were "caught red-handed" in Peshawar, while stamping ballot papers the night before polling. "All day there have been reports of PTI ransacking polling stations attacking polling staff including women," he alleged.

Bilawal called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to take action against "rigging and ensure free and fair elections".

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