Areas left out of polling in Cantt Board Peshawar elections

May 18,2015

Candidates appeal to Election Commission to hold re-polling

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PESHAWAR: The speed of the communication within the official channels in Pakistan is so “quick and robust” that a notification by the Ministry of Defence, which declared some areas of Peshawar as part of cantonment, reached the Cantonment Board Peshawar office after seven months and as a result those areas were kept out of the Cantonment Board elections held recently.
Documents available with The News show that on July 9, 2014 the Ministry of Defence through a notification stated, “The federal government is pleased to include within the limits of Peshawar Cantonment the land situated in three villages, namely Tehkal Bala No 1, Regi Lalama and Malakandher lying across the Jamrud Road and a small portion of private land.” Later, on July 12, 2014 it was also notified in the Gazette of Pakistan.
As per the law, these areas were included in Peshawar Cantonment and the people of the area should have been given the right to participate in the April 25 Cantonment Boards elections. However, the people living in these areas didn’t get the chance to exercise their right to vote.
The following is the reason given by an official of the Cantonment Board Peshawar (CBP): “We have received the notification in February so it was not possible to include these areas in the April 25 election.”
Talking to The News by phone, the CBP’s assistant secretary Sajjad said the elections were conducted on the basis of delimitation conducted before the 2013 general elections. He said that due to the limited time they could not make further wards comprising of the newly included areas.
He said the population of the newly included areas was not more than that of a single ward. However, sources said the population of these areas was more than enough for at least two more wards.
Syed Aqil Shah, former provincial minister for sports hailing from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s PK-4 constituency that falls in the CBP areas, said the government and Election Commission of Pakistan should take notice of this gross negligence and announce re-polling in the CBP and include the areas left out in the April 25 polls.
He said that soon he would file a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court against the irregularities in the Cantonment Board elections. “I am in contact with senior lawyers and preparing my case to raise the issues before the court of law,” Aqil Shah said.
Besides the non-inclusion of the areas, a number of other irregularities also surfaced in the CBP elections and candidates from different wards submitted appeals against these illegal acts.
A candidate Imran Khan, who contested from ward 1, appealed to the Election Commission that a complete block code number 038010101 totalling 564 votes of an area of Municipal Corporation Peshawar was included in the electoral rolls of ward No 1 of the CBP.
In his appeal, he said that according to the Cantonments (Amendment) Ordinance 2015, the boundaries of the ward shall not cross the limits of the cantonment.He stated that well before the election, he had submitted to the returning officer an application that was later forwarded to Election Commissioner Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but no action was taken on it.
Similarly, sources said, an application was moved against the winning candidate in CBP’s ward number 2 where the winning candidate was not even the registered voter of the ward. In the same ward, 100 votes have been registered in a single household.
The situation was also not different in ward 5 where a locality named Khattak Colony was included in CBP even though it was part of Municipal Corporation Peshawar.The candidates have appealed to the Election Commission of Pakistan to take action against the gross negligence and announce re-polling in the Cantonment Board Peshawar.

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