KP witnesses good voter turnout

Published February 9, 2024
(Clockwise from top) Women voters at a polling station in Peshawar. ANP provincial chief Aimal Wali casts his vote in Charsadda. Counting of votes under way in Bajaur. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt/Dawn
(Clockwise from top) Women voters at a polling station in Peshawar. ANP provincial chief Aimal Wali casts his vote in Charsadda. Counting of votes under way in Bajaur. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt/Dawn

PESHAWAR: With over 21.928 million people having the right to vote, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa witnessed largely peaceful general elections on Thursday.

A high voter turnout was reported in the province amid suspension of mobile phone service.

The polling began at 8am and continued until 5pm without interruption leading to the counting of votes polled.

Communication disruption in the morning took voters by surprise. They struggled to relocate their respective polling stations as the mobile phone networks were shut.

Activists of political parties and supporters of candidates also complained their bids to reach out to voters by phone for getting them to polling stations were hampered.

Voters suffer due to communication outage

In capital city Peshawar, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers and supporters went to the polls in large numbers. Their presence was noticeable compared with those of other parties in almost all localities. The Awami National Party activists were also active.

Election camps of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-Parliamentarians – a splinter group of Imran Khan’s PTI – wore a deserted look all through the day. Former chief minister Pervez Khattak’s party didn’t put up camps at several places.

Dawn visited polling stations within the city and on its outskirts and witnessed long lines of voters until noon. However, the queues receded afterwards.

At a men’s polling station set up in the Higher Secondary School No 1 Peshawar Cantonment – an area that is part of NA-31 constituency - 600 out of over 1,200 votes were polled by 3:30pm.

A member of the polling staff told Dawn the polling was a “bit slow” as a few people were turning up to exercise their franchise.

At another polling station of the area reported the polling of around 600 out of 1,350 votes by that time.

A large crowd of voters was seen at the women’s polling station in the Salwan Middle School. They however complained about the slow pace of voting.

Polling agents and staff told Dawn the electoral process was moving on smoothly and they faced no issues.

Two hours before the conclusion of the polling time at 5pm, 700 out of 1300 votes were cast at a polling station set up at Tor Baba Middle School.

A polling staff member told Dawn the tally of polled votes was likely to reach the 800 mark by 5pm.

The situation was no different at a polling station established at the Government Girls Middle School, Gulshan Rehman Colony, Kohat Road.

Members of the polling staff insisted that 1,912 votes were registered at the polling station and the number of votes polled was likely to total around 1,200 by 5pm.

 (Clockwise from top) Women voters at a polling station in Peshawar. ANP provincial chief Aimal Wali casts his vote in Charsadda. Counting of votes under way in Bajaur. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt/Dawn
(Clockwise from top) Women voters at a polling station in Peshawar. ANP provincial chief Aimal Wali casts his vote in Charsadda. Counting of votes under way in Bajaur. — Photo by Shahbaz Butt/Dawn

Several political workers complained they faced problems in reaching out to voters in the absence of mobile phone service.

As mobile phone and internet services were suspended, the presiding officer of a polling station in Regi area on the outskirts of Peshawar complained he didn’t know about the phone numbers for transmitting poll results electronically.

The ECP said the province had 21.928 million registered voters, including 11.944 million men and 8.373 million women.

It added that a total of 15,696 polling stations were set up across the province and 4,810 of them were for men and 4,287 for women, while 6,600 were combined.

Meanwhile, the polling remained mostly peaceful in Hazara Division’s Mansehra, Torghar, Kolai-Palas, Upper and Lower Kohistan districts.

Polling in far-off areas didn’t begin on time due to the late delivery of polling materials.

Voters complained about the daylong suspension of mobile phone and internet service and said the government’s move raised questions about the credibility of elections.

“We [voters] struggled to locate our polling stations due to communication outage,” Mansehra resident Mohammad Ajmal told Dawn.

Charsadda district reported high voter turnout in peaceful elections.

The regional police officer, district police officer and district administration officials visited polling stations to monitor security arrangements.

QWP chairman Aftab Sherpao and ANP provincial chief Aimal Wali Khan cast their voters in their respective constituencies in the district.

Also, polling remained peaceful in Bajaur tribal district. However, low turnout of women voters was reported at all polling stations.

A local official of the ECP said the suspension of mobile internet service delayed the receipt of election results from polling stations, especially those located in far-flung areas.

Khyber tribal district also reported peaceful elections.

The polling stations mostly attracted young voters, while most registered female voters didn’t exercise their franchise.

Voters and polling agents of candidates complained about communication disruption, which, they insisted, led to low turnout as a majority of voters couldn’t find their vote numbers and polling stations.

Elections were also reported peacefully in Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Haripur and Abbottabad districts amid suspension of mobile phone and internet service and strict security measures.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2024

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