QUETTA: After a lapse of almost three-and-a-half years from their scheduled time, the local government elections are going to be held in 32 out of 34 districts of Balochistan on Sunday (tomorrow).

The provincial election commission has finalised all arrangements in this regard and 16,195 male and female candidates are set to take part in the elections.

For the first time in the province, as many as 132 female candidates are contesting directly on general seats where they are facing male candidates. Most female candidates belong to the Sibi district.

The elections were due in May 2019, but could not be held in time as the then provincial government had taken a court stay order and appointed administrators to run local bodies.

Arrangements finalised for elections to be conducted in 32 out of 34 districts

Since then, whenever the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) planned to conduct local body polls, provincial authorities tried to delay them on one pretext or the other.

A petition was filed in the Balochistan High Court this time around to postpone the elections, but the court rejected the petition and ordered the polls on May 29, as announced by the ECP.

Elections are being held on a party basis and almost all political parties, as well as different groups and panels comprising independent candidates, are participating.

A sizable number of candidates belonging to political parties and tribal groups have been elected unopposed. However, the election commission has not yet announced the results.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo has approved Rs600 million for security arrangements and maintaining law and order during the elections.

Official sources said the provincial home and tribal affairs department had sent a summary to the chief minister for releasing the amount to meet the expenditures for security arrangements, deployment of security forces and their logistic facilities in the 32 districts.

The ECP has set up 5,236 polling stations in these districts, of which more than 2,000 stations have been declared very sensitive and 1,917 sensitive.

A meeting, presided over by ECP Secretary Umar Hameed Khan, was held on Friday in connection with the elections.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aquili, Local Government Secretary Dostain Khan Jamaldani, Inspector General of Police Mohsin Butt, Intelligence Bureau’s Joint Director General Omer Shahid and other authorities concerned attended the meeting.

The participants were informed that all arrangements had been completed and a special security plan was made to ensure peaceful and smooth polling.

Besides, 45,438 security personnel — including members of the police, Levies, Anti-Terrorist Force and Frontier Corps (FC) — will be deployed in and around polling stations. Army troops along with FC personnel would be deployed at all tentative polling stations.

In 32 districts, the number of male registered voters stands at 2,043,828 while females number 1,570,896.

The ECP has set up 13,533 polling booths in 5,624 polling stations. Election results will be announced on June 2.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022

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