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Karachi

July 26, 2018

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Hailing joint electorate, minorities’ voters cast ballots enthusiastically

Voting in the general election 2018 remained peaceful by and large and lots of enthusiasm was witnessed in and around the polling stations visited.

At one of the polling stations in PECHS Block-II, 150 prospective voters had turned up by 10:30am and were steadily streaming in. It was the same with camps of the other parties.

However, at the polling station itself, which had been set up in a girls’ school, security steps were really tight and this correspondent was not allowed in because he had a mobile phone. On being requested to keep the cellphone in their custody while the correspondent went in to take stock of the situation, the law enforcers sternly refused and told the correspondent to either leave it in his car or “go back home and leave it there”.

It was the same with all the other polling stations he attempted to visit. However, on observing the situation from outside the stations, no untoward incident was witnessed. Things seemed to be moving smoothly and the constant streaming in of voters at that early hour was testimony to the interest and enthusiasm of the electorate. An unusually large number of women voters were witnessed.

The religious minorities, in particular seemed to be most enthusiastic. A Christian voter who requested to be identified by his initials, RJ, said that it was really happy augury that Christians were being given an opportunity to vote under the joint electorate system. “This gives us the reassurance that we are considered as much Pakistanis as our Muslim brethren and that we are part of the national mainstream,” he said.

He went on to say, “Since we have been considered part of the national mainstream, it must be taken that we have the same expectations from our elected representatives, namely provision of clean, potable drinking water, health and education facilities for the financially challenged, law and order, and security of person.”

A number of other Christian voters this correspondent talked to hailed the election as a constructive exercise and said that they were highly excited. They were unanimous in their endorsement of the joint electorates system.

One voter, however, had a different experience. Asked as to whether he’d be going to cast his vote, he replied in the negative. On being asked as to why that was so, he narrated his experience of the 2013 general elections and said that when he reached the polling station to cast his vote, it turned out that someone else had already impersonated him and cast his vote. This, he said, was a real damper on his enthusiasm and as such, he wouldn’t be going to cast his vote this time.

The consensus among all the Christian voters was that now they would have a proper forum to air their views and grievances. Lots of public conveyance vehicles and flying flags of political parties could be seen flitting around the polling station in PECHS Block-II. The place bore a festive air.

Mushtaq Masih, principal, YMCA Secondary School, was all praise for the election set-up. His organisation was also a polling station and he said that the arrangements were flawless. There were no altercations or violent differences of opinion. The Army, Rangers, police and other law enforcing security agencies were really helpful to the voters and things were carried on in a really methodical way.

As for the joint separate electorate issue, he favoured the former and said that the main disadvantage of the separate electorate system was that constituencies of the minorities were spread over very large areas, sometimes on a countrywide basis, and that made it real hard to reach the voters, especially the ones in far-flung, underdeveloped areas.

In PS-109, Furrukh Mongaria, a voter of the Parsi community, said he had come along with his wife Sherzade to cast their votes. He said the majority of the residents of the Parsi Compound neawr NJV School had come to cast their ballots and expressed satisfaction with the election process.

Mukesh, a resident of Narainpura, complained about the shifting of the votes of most members of his famly to another constituency. He said it proved very difficult for his family members to cast their votes.

Fakharuddin, a voter of the Dawoodi Bohra community said the majority of voters of his community had cast their ballots as they thought voting amounted to showing loyalty to the country. He said his community members had decided that they would elect to power those people who had failed to delvier the goods despite having been elected in the past repeatedly.

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