Balochistan votes in LG polls amid sporadic violence

Published May 30, 2022
(CLOCKWISE from top left) Women waiting to cast their vote at a polling station in Gwadar on Sunday; a man casts his ballot at a Quetta polling station; and, the ECP staff counting votes after polling in Dera Allah Yar.—Dawn / PPI / Online
(CLOCKWISE from top left) Women waiting to cast their vote at a polling station in Gwadar on Sunday; a man casts his ballot at a Quetta polling station; and, the ECP staff counting votes after polling in Dera Allah Yar.—Dawn / PPI / Online

QUETTA: Independent candidates were leading in the local government elections held on Sunday in 32 districts of Balochistan, unofficial results suggested.

By late night on Sunday, independent candidates had won more than 1,000 seats in municipal corporations, municipal committees and union councils, followed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) winning around 100 seats and the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) securing 71 seats.

Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party bagged 39 seats, National Party 33, Pakistan Peoples Party 26, and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) 18.

Polling for local government elections in the 4,456 urban and rural wards of Balochistan’s 32 districts ended at 5pm amid reports of sporadic violence trickling in from various parts of the province.

One person was killed and over 30 injured in grenade attacks, firing and clashes between rival groups in different areas of the province. Polling had to be suspended at some stations.

Independents lead with over 1,000 seats, followed by JUI-F, BAP; official says voter turnout remains 60pc, highest since 1998

Polling began on time at 8am and continued without a break until 5pm, and vote counting was under way until late in the night.

The Gwadar rights movement, which fought for the rights of fishermen and other stakeholders of Makran, made a clean sweep in the coastal district of Gwadar, whereas the National Party showed strong performance by winning 29 seats in Turbat city.

The four-party alliance — comprising BNP-M, National Party, JUI-F and Pakistan National Party (PNP) — could not muster support in the coastal district.

Unofficial results suggested that Gwadar’s Haq Do Tehreek clinched 27 seats on the municipal committee out of the total 30. The movement also performed well in Ormara and Pasni where voters, especially women, helped it secure a majority of the seats in these two municipal committees.

On the other hand, the National Party headed by Dr Malik Baloch clinched majority seats in the Turbat municipal corporation. According to unofficial results, the party won 29 of the 52 seats, while PNP and BNP-Mengal could get five and three seats, respectively. Some independent candidates also bagged victories.

The ruling BAP ticket could not be seen in local government elections in its stronghold Chagai district as Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s group and supporters of MNA Mir Mohammad Arif Mohammad Hasni contested elections as independent candidates against each other in many union councils.

The supporters of Sanjrani group chose the goat as its symbol for contesting elections under the umbrella of Khan Sanjrani panel and the rabbit was chosen by the Hasni group as its election symbol under the umbrella of Al-Fateh panel.

Unofficial results suggested that the Al-Fateh panel bagged the majority of general councillor seats in at least six union councils while the Sanjrani panel won the majority of seats in at least three union councils.

Another political alliance Baba-i-Chagai panel, which was part of JUI-F, won five out of eight seats in municipal committee Dalbandin, besides winning the majority of the seats in at least three union councils.

Sources said differences in BAP on central and local levels compelled both the groups to contest local government elections under their local political platforms.

As many as 23,835 candidates were in the run of contesting election on 6,259 wards. However, 1,584 candidates were already elected unopposed on general seats, and the election was conducted on the remaining 4,456 wards.

The Election Commission of Pakistan set up 5,226 polling stations — including 576 for males, 562 for females and 4,088 combined — for the exercise in 32 out of 34 districts of the province.

The schedule for polls in the remaining two districts — Quetta and Lasbela — will be announced later, as delimitation is under way there after the provincial government increased the number of constituencies.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aqeeli said the elections were held in a peaceful, free, transparent and impartial manner.

Talking to the media on Sunday, he said voter turnout remained 60 per cent, the highest since the 1988 election.

Violence incidents

Although the day was largely peaceful, some reports of violence emerged.

Official sources confirmed at least one death in a firing incident and over 30 wounded in different violence incidents in different areas.

A senior official of the local administration said the deceased, identified as Muhammad Anwar, was injured in an exchange of fire between two rival groups in front of a polling station in Padag area of Chagai district and later died of his injuries while being shifted to a hospital in Quetta.

Voting was suspended for some time as the situation became tense after the incident, but it was later brought under control.

District Monitoring Officer Yasir Dashti told Dawn the local administration was investigating the incident, but no arrests had been made.

Mr Anwar’s family sources alleged that he was murdered by a Levies Force Sepoy, who was a supporter of a rival tribe and was deployed at a nearby polling station.

Sources said Mr Anwar was a nephew of Malik Fateh Mohammad, a contestant from Ward 7 of Union Council 1 in Padag.

Meanwhile, Mir Mohammad Arif Mohammad Hasni, a member of the provincial assembly from the ruling Balochistan Awami Party, alleged that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and his brothers were behind the killing. In a statement issued on Sunday, Mr Hasni said Mr Anwar was his worker and was allegedly shot dead by a Levies Force Sepoy.

Meanwhile, polling could not be held in three wards of Barkhan district due to clashes between rival groups. Clashes also took place in Sibi and Jaffarabad areas, where several people got injured and were admitted to district hospitals in Dera Allahyar and Usta Muhammad.

However, no major incident of violence was reported in Khuzdar, Kalat, Mastung, Gwadar, Panjgur, Turbat, Nushki, Jhal Magsi, Dera Bugti, Loralai, Qila Abdullah, Qila Saifullah, Pishin, Zhob, Sherani, Bolan, Dalbandin, Nasirabad, Kharan, Awaran and Washuk.

At around 2pm, a blast was reported outside a women’s polling station in the Mengal Union Council of the Nushki district. Later, SP Abdul Saboor Shah confirmed that it was a grenade attack. However, no loss of life was reported.

In Sibi, separate incidents of violence were reported. In ward 4 of the Mall Chachar Union Council, 12 people were left injured after a fight broke out between two groups.

A polling station was blown up in Kohlu district by unknown people, who had planted an explosive device early in the morning. A school building was also damaged in the incident.

Separately, three rockets were also fired at a polling station in Kohlu district that landed near a Levies checkpoint. However, no casualty was reported in the attack.

In Kech district, at least three blasts were reported.

Abdul Wahid Shahwani from Khuzdar, Ali Jan Mangi from Dera Murad Jamali, Behram Baloch from Makran, and Ali Raza Rind from Chagai also contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2022

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