QUETTA: As many as 1,584 candidates of different political parties, independents and tribal panels have been elected unopposed in different urban and rural wards in the local body election, which will be held on Sunday (today) in 32 out of 34 districts of Balochistan.
The polling will now be held in 4,456 urban and rural wards in which 16,195 male and female candidates will contest elections. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 121 candidates have been elected unopposed in urban and 1,463 in rural wards.
“No candidate filed nomination papers in 108 rural and urban wards in different areas of Balochistan due to various reasons,” a senior ECP official told Dawn, adding that these wards would remain without public representatives.
Sources said these wards were located in Gwadar, Kech, Pasni and some other districts of the province, where the election would be held later once the security situation improved.
Elections set to be held in 32 districts today
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 of these women belong to Kohlu district, from where 22 females are in the field, followed by 21 from Kech district.
Other female candidates come from Sibi, Pishin, Kharan, Washuk, Barkhan, Nasirabad, Jaffarabad, Sohbatpur, Kachhi, Kalat, Khuzdar Loralai, Gwadar, Panjgur and Dera Bugti.
The ECP has completed all election-related arrangements and a heavy contingent of security forces — including the army, Frontier Corps (FC), police, Levies, Anti-Terrorist Force and Rapid Response Force — will be deployed in all 32 districts.
The ECP has set up 13,533 polling booths in 5,624 polling stations, of which 2,034 stations have been declared very sensitive and 1,974 sensitive where special security arrangements have been made.
Of all, 576 polling stations have been set up for men, 562 for women, whereas 4,088 stations are non-segregated.
The polling will continue from 8am to 5pm without any break. In total, as many as 3,552,398 registered voters would use their right to vote in today’s elections.
Local Government Secretary Dostain Khan Jamaldani, speaking at a press conference on Saturday along with Balochistan government spokesperson Farah Azeem Shah, said all was set for the polling, which was going to be held after almost three and a half years of the scheduled time, as the last elections were held in December 2013.
They said elections were being held in 49 municipal committees, 838 union councils and wards of 32 districts while in Quetta and Lasbela districts, local government elections would be held later sometime.
“The provincial government has released Rs4.3 billion for holding elections under Balochistan Local Government Election Rules,” Ms Shah said while responding to a question, adding that the government was trying to get maximum people to participate in the local government elections.
She said that a code of conduct had been agreed with deputy commissioners and meetings had been held with law enforcement agencies and tribal elders of all districts to ensure free and fair elections
A control room had been set up in the Home Department and the office of the Capital City Police Officer to monitor elections, she said, adding that Pakistan Army and FC personnel had been deployed in Khuzdar, Chaman, Qila Abdullah, Gwadar and Awaran.
Mr Jamaldani said shortcomings and omissions regarding the conduct of elections had been rectified and insisted that elections would be conducted efficiently in even those areas where facilities were not available.
Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2022