Monday May 30 2022

Balochistan holds local govt polls after nine years

A voter imprints thumb on a voters book at a polling station in Pakistan. — AFP
A voter imprints thumb on a voters book at a polling station in Pakistan. — AFP

  • Independent candidates take lead in Balochistan LG polls.
  • JUI-F leads with 260 seats among political parties.
  • Several districts report incidents of violence during polling.

QUETTA: Independent candidates were leading in the Balochistan local government (LG) elections, held after nine years on Sunday (May 29), in 32 of the 34 districts of the province.

As of Monday morning, independent candidates were leading on around 1,753 seats, according to unofficial results. JUI-F was leading on 362 seats, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) on 257, National Party (NP) on 128 seats Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) on 125, PPP on 99, PTI on 59 seats, Balochistan National Party (BNP) on 92, BNP-Awami on 49, ANP 32, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) on 19 seats, PML-N on 18 and Jamat-e-Islami (JI) was leading on 11seats.

According to the unofficial and unverified results of 24 out of 25 wards of the Loralai municipal committee, BAP was leading in 17 wards, independents in four, while PkMAP and JUI-F were leading on one seat each.

According to the unofficial and unverified results of 106 out of 157 wards of the Gwadar municipal committee, Haq Do Movement was leading in 52 wards, independents in 34, BNP in 14, National Party in two and JUI-F in one.

According to the unofficial results of 34 out of 35 wards of Chaman municipal corporation, PkMAP was leading on 12 seats, JUI-F on six, ANP on five and BAP and Oolsi Movement on four each. Independent candidates were leading on three seats.

According to unofficial results of nine out of 10 wards in municipal committee Washuk, the JUI-F was leading on seven seats, while BAP on three seats. Out of 11 wards in municipal committee Dera Bugti, Shahzain Bugti’s JWP was leading on nine seats, while independents were leading on the remaining two seats.

During the polling, violence was reported in several districts, while Qalat and Nauskhi were hit by explosions. However, authorities foiled terror attempts in Kohlu and Chaman. Only a couple of hours into polling, an armed clash took place between two groups in Nasirabad Municipal Committee Ward 25. Consequently, the voting process was suspended for a while.

Candidates and polling agents clashed with each other, and several were injured in the firing and shifted to hospital. Election violence turned deadly in the Qilla Abdullah district where one person was killed in Padag and another was injured in Kolak Union Council.

In Sibbi, two groups clashed in Ward-4 of Union Council Mal Chachar resorting to heavy gunfire, which left at least 10 people wounded. At least three of the injured were in critical condition. A reinforcement of the Levies arrived in the area.

In Loralai, polling agents from rival ANP and BAP clashed over an alleged omission in the voters’ rolls in the Dargai Qilla area.In Chaman, polling was suspended after political activists clashed in Ward-3 of the Municipal Council Chaman.

Political activists clashed using batons in Ward-7 and 21 of Dera Murad Jamali. At least two people were wounded including a candidate on a minority seat, Mahindra Kumar. Separately, two ballot paper books were found missing at the women’s polling station forcing the polling to stop.

In Kohlu’s Union Council, six voters clashed with each other and also tried to beat up the polling staff. The polling process was suspended as seven people were left wounded. In Nauskhi, a bomb exploded near the women’s polling station in Ward-4 of the Union Council Mengal. However, no casualties were reported.

In Qalat, terrorists fired a rocket at Degree College Mangochar, which hosted a polling station and lobbed a hand grenade at another polling station in Dastigard. Balochistan Election Commissioner Fayyaz Murad urged the people to cast vote without any fear as, he said, authorities had ensured strict security measures across the province.

He said Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Khuzdar, Awaran, Chaman, and Qilla Abdullah districts had been declared sensitive. Police, levies, and FC personnel were deployed in all the polling stations. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set up 5,226 polling stations and at least 1,974 of them had been declared ‘sensitive’. A total of 16,195 candidates contested for seven municipal councils, 838 union councils, 5,345 rural and 914 urban ward seats. At least 1,584 candidates have already returned unopposed, according to the election commission.

Elections in Quetta and Lasbela did not take place on the order of the high court in a case involving objections against new delimitation.

Of the 3.5 million voters eligible to vote across 32 districts, 2,006,274 are male voters and 1,546,124 are female voters. Since Sunday morning, great enthusiasm was witnessed among voters especially youth who came in large numbers to polling stations to elect their representatives for local government. The turnout of voters was good, the voters thronged polling stations to cast their votes in large numbers and a high turnout was expected.

The supporters of candidates set up private polling booths outside of the premises of polling stations for educating the voters. They also hired private transport to facilitate senior citizens, women and persons with disabilities.

Originally published in The News