KP local body election: Counting of votes across 17 districts underway in violence-marred polls

Various incidents of violence claim at least 4 lives, injure several; JUI-F ahead in Peshawar, ANP in the lead in Mardan mayoral race

Javed Aziz Khan
Mushtaq Paracha
Syed Yasir Shah
Web Desk

The counting of votes in local government elections across 17 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is underway after the close of polling at 5pm on Sunday, a day that saw several incidents of violence break out.

Polling in the 17 districts, including Peshawar, Charsadda, Nowshehra, Bannu, Kohat, Mardan, and Peshawar, marked the first phase of the local body polls, with the next phase to take place at a later date.

Mayoral race in 4 major cities

According to unofficial, preliminary results for four major cities' mayoral race, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) has the upper hand in Peshawar, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Bannu, Awami National Party (ANP) in Mardan and an independent candidate in Kohat.

In Peshawar, according to the unofficial results from 69 out of 521 polling stations, Zubair Ali of JUI is leading the race with 6,237 votes while PTI's Rizwan Bangash is second with 5,638 votes.

In Bannu, according to unofficial results from 75 polling stations out of 286, PTI's Iqbal Jadoon Khan is leading with 14,623 votes and JUI is close behind with 14,426 votes.

In Mardan, according to the unofficial results from 10 out of 414 polling stations, ANP's Himayatullah Mayar is ahead with 1,708 votes while JUIF's Amanat Shah Haqqani is in second place with 1070 votes.

In Kohat, according to unofficial results from 75 of 265 polling stations, independent candidate Shafiullah Jan is in the lead with 8,583 votes and Sher Zaman of JUI is in second place with 8,087 votes.

Independents dominate in Village Council polls

Geo News has received the unofficial results of 28 Village Councils, according to which 11 independent candidates have been elected to village council seats.

Furthermore, according to the results received, JUI and ANP have won 6 each, PTI 3, and Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-N one village council seat each.

JUI lead in Neighbourhood Council polls

Geo News has so far received the unofficial results of 16 neighbourhood Councils, according to which nine independent candidates have won Neighborhood Council seats.

Three candidates from JUI, and one each from ANP, PPP, PTI and PML-N have been elected to the Neighborhood Council.

4 people killed

Tensions ran high today in different parts of the province, with at least four people killed and several others injured in a series of attacks including a suicide bombing and multiple shootings. There were also reports of rockets being fired.

Strict security arrangements were made, with a total of 79,479 police and other law enforcement agencies' personnel deployed in the districts where balloting took place.

Even then, law and order was broken and a violence-marred first phase of the local government elections was witnessed.

At least two people were killed and six others were injured in a suicide blast in Bajaur's Mamond tehsil.

In addition, two people were killed and three others were injured in a firing incident near a polling station in Takht Nusrati tehsil of Karak.

According to police, the deceased included a cousin of PTI MNA Shahid Khattak and a gunman. Polling was stopped after the incident.

The perpetrators managed to escape after the attack.

Furthermore, two persons were injured in a firing incident near a polling station in Mirbazi area of ​​Dera Ismail Khan.

Polling stations set ablaze in Darra Adam Khel

Violence also broke out in Darra Adam Khel, where groups of people against the merger of the tribal districts, set fire to polling stations and votes and took some ballot boxes with them.

Women's polling station attacked in Nowshera

In Nowshera's Mir Misri Banda area where a women's polling station was attacked during polling time, Geo News reported.

According to Geo News, District Police Officer Imran Khan said that an independent councillor candidate, Muzzaffar Khan, with some companions attacked the venue. The group broke six ballot boxes, tore up votes and even took some votes with them.

The DPO said that a case against the candidate and 150 others is being registered and that efforts are underway to arrest the culprits.

It emerged that an argument broke out between some women voters at the venue of which the male members of the family took note and descended upon the polling station to sort.

The DPO said that polling was stopped and the matter of re-polling will be addressed later.

Firing at polling stations in Lakki Marwat, Jamrud

Shots were fired between two groups outside a women's polling station in Multani Manijwala tehsil of Lakki Marwat. No casualties were reported.

A firing incident was also reported at a polling station in Malaguri area of ​​Jamrud tehsil of Khyber district.

Gunmen attack polling stations in Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal

A group of armed men attacked polling stations in Zakhakhel and Landi Kotal, smashing ballot boxes and damaging other election-related material.

In Malik Nadir Shah Killay School of the Landi Kotal Bazaar area, staff members were also taken hostage..

The polling process was subsequently stopped across 20 polling stations in the areas.

Baka Khel polls halted after rigging allegations

Furthermore, the polling process in Baka Khel tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Bannu district was halted after disruption in the law and order there.

A statement issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the new date for polling in Baka Khel will be announced later.

Leader of the Opposition in KP Assembly Akram Khan Durrani had levelled allegations against a provincial minister of PTI of storming into five polling stations in Baka Khel and taking the polling staff hostage.

Durrani, while speaking to Geo News, claimed that provincial minister Shah Muhammad Khan abducted the polling staff of five polling stations and took the polling material with them.

He said that the abducted polling staff members are "kept at a petrol pump".

Durrani also accused Khan of opening fire on the police. He said that the relevant deputy commissioner and district police officer have been informed about the matter but the administration seems helpless in this regard.

The ECP's spokesperson said that KP's chief election commissioner has formed a special committee to probe the matter.

The three-member committee, comprising Secretary Zafar Iqbal, General Law Additional Khurram Shehzad and KP Election Director Khushal Zada, will present its report after investigation in seven days.

Dera Ismail Khan mayoral elections postponed

Voting for the election of Dera Ismail Khan mayor city council was deferred after ANP's candidate Mohammad Umar Khattab was shot dead on Saturday.

Following the incident, the security in DIK and nearby districts was enhanced.

The polls in numbers

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 12.66 million voter are registered across the 17 districts, with 7.015 million male voters and 5.653 million female voters.

As many as 37,752 candidates are in the running for different categories in the first phase of the polls. Among these, 689 are in the run to lead the city and tehsil councils while 19,285 candidates are in the run for the slot of general councilors, chairman in village and neighbourhood councils.

Of the others, 3,905 candidates are flexing their muscles for the seats for women councilors, 7,513 for peasant councilors, 6,081 for youth councilors and 282 for minority councilors.

As per reports, 876 women councilors have already been elected unopposed in different village and neighborhood councils across the province.

A large number of minority councilors have also been elected unopposed.

A total of 9,223 polling stations and 28,892 polling booths have been set up for today's elections.

Of these, 2,507 polling stations have been declared most sensitive, 4,188 sensitive, while 528 have been categorized as normal.

Meanwhile, 860 polling stations have been designated as sensitive, 165 as most sensitive, and 224 as normal in the provincial capital.

Security arrangements

A total of 79,479 police and other law enforcement agencies' personnel were deployed, with around 11,000 policemen and personnel of other forces deployed in Peshawar alone.

An official said that in addition to the police, Frontier Constabulary personnel would be deployed in over 200 most sensitive polling stations in the provincial capital. Deployment to all the polling stations has been completed.

Besides the Ababeel squad, rapid response force and other forces will also remain alert to rush in case of any mishap in an area. The cops have been directed not to allow brandishing of weapons, aerial firing or creating any law and order.

Inspector-General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari chaired a meeting on the security arrangements for the polls on Saturday and directed the officers to ensure foolproof security.

For the first time, cops from the erstwhile tribal areas have also been deployed in different districts of the province for election security duty.

Today marks the first time that local government polls are being held in districts of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) .