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July 24, 2018

Fear, threats overshadow polls


July 24, 2018

PESHAWAR: On the last day of the two months-long election campaign amid an atmosphere of fear and threats, the political parties and candidates have tasked activists with hiring vehicles for bringing voters to the polling stations on the polling day.

The candidates reached out to the electorate during the campaign. The political parties tried to persuade the dissidents to return to the party fold.

This time the election campaign was not as vibrant and lively compared to the past. The big banners and posters of candidates in most of the constituencies were removed on directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The candidates were allowed to display party flags and posters in line with the limits set by the ECP.

The youth wearing colourful caps of their respective parties were seen moving in vehicles playing loud music and urging the people to vote for their party candidates.

The martyrdom of Awami National Party candidate for PK-78 Haroon Bilour, Balochistan Awami Party candidate for PB-35 Siraj Raisani and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate for PK-99 Ikramullah Gandapur saddened the people and created concern among the electorate about the security situation.

During visits to various constituencies in Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda, Nowshera, Swabi, Malakand and Khyber tribal district and meeting with some candidates, it was observed that the contestants were carrying out their campaign but were concerned until the end whether the election would be held on time or postponed.

The role of the judiciary, secret agencies, undue support to a particular party and candidates and the challenges to the next government were the main topics of politicians’ discussions.

Clashes and scuffles also occurred in some places in the province on the issue of hoisting party flags.

Like the past, this election also exposed double standards of political parties that embraced the so-called electables who quit their parties in search of greener pastures.

It was observed in some constituencies that “daily wage workers” were more active than the so-called “ideological” workers in attending election gatherings.

Senior political activists pointed out that the resourceful candidates lavishly spent on the campaign to score a victory in the polls. The voters, they said, would congratulate the winners and console the losers irrespective of their political affiliation as was the norm in our society.

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