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National News
June 01,2015

KP LG polls see scuffles & mismanagement

Tauseef-ur-Rahman
PESHAWAR: The historic local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the sole embodiment of ill-planning, chaos, confusion and mismanagement.
Fights, scuffles, firing, lack of polling staff, missing of election symbols in ballot papers, allegations of rigging, slow voting process and absence of guidance for voters marred the biggest ever local government elections in the history of the province.
“Our candidate’s election symbol—air conditioner— is not printed on the ballot and lots of votes have been polled by now. Is this the planning of the government?” questioned Saima Nawaz, polling agent of a candidate contesting for general councillor at Commerce College women polling station of Union Council-9 Sikandar Town.
At the mentioned polling station, two more candidates contesting for peasant/labour also complained that their election symbols, cutter plas, and honey bee were not printed on the ballot.
After strong protest from candidates, the polling was stopped at 11 a.m. However, till that time 514 votes were polled in two polling booths of the polling station.
Later the returning officer Sohail Aziz came along with new ballot papers and asked the staff to resume polling. However, he failed to answer what mechanism they would adopt for the already polled votes.
The electronic media reported that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took notice of these incidents and ordered that re-polling would be held at such union councils.
At a number of polling stations in the city people complained of shortage of polling staff which consumed much time. “We are required to give seven ballot papers for which we need a staff of 17 members, however I have only seven,” said a presiding officer at a female polling station in Union Council 43 Hayatabad.
Another presiding officer of Government Girls’ Primary School said there was no furniture for the staff and candidates of the political parties provided them with it.
The lack of staff and seven ballot papers for one voter slowed the election process in all the polling stations. Even in some polling station it halted the polling. “I came at 8:30am to cast my vote and it took me more than two hours,” said Aneesur Rahman, a voter coming out of a polling station in Faqirabad locality of the city.
A lady at a polling station at Shahbuddin Girls High School said she had left her kids at home to cast vote but for the last three hours in the hot and humid conditions she had been waiting for her turn to cast the vote.
“I have never seen such a slow process of election in my life,” said Rehana Nazeer, a seemingly frustrated voter. It took minimum 15 minutes for each voter to complete the process of verification before getting the ballots.
A large number of voters returned without using their right, saying they could not wait for such a slow process.
Chaos prevailed at many polling stations. There was a great rush at a number of polling stations and no proper arrangements were seen for the security of ballot boxes. “I could have easily taken out my vote as there was no one to keep an eye on the box,” said Nauman Khan.
Interference of the lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was also reported in several areas in Peshawar. Arbab Jehandad, an MPA of PTI from PK-9, reportedly slapped the presiding officer at a polling station in Union Council Lala Killay. His son-in-law was contesting from the area.
Similarly, the polling staff was also not trained and it was witnessed that they could not even find the names of the voters in the official voter-list.
Allegations and counter allegations of rigging were also made by the workers of political parties. “In Punjab, there was one Gullu Butt but here you will find many,” said a charged worker of PPP pointing to the police which he alleged was helping the PTI candidate at Commerce College Polling Station.
The PTI supporters at Government City District Girls College alleged that ANP workers were using foul means and pressurising presiding officer.
Interestingly, at polling station 186 at Shahabudin Girls Higher Secondary School, the counterfoils existed but the ballot papers of peasant/labour and general councillor were missing from the ballot paper book.
The presiding officer said they had received the ballot books with the missing ballots from the authorities. “We have mentioned on the counterfoils of such ballots that their ballots are missing,” she said.

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