Multan

The counting of votes begun in Multan as the polling for the third round of local government election ended here on Saturday.

The polling was held in peaceful atmosphere as no major incident or casualty was reported from any area of Multan except for some brawls. The polling started at 7:30 am and continued till 5:30 pm without any interval. High turnout of voters in both urban and rural areas was observed.

Strict security arrangements were made by the law enforcement agencies as army and rangers troops patrolled sensitive polling stations throughout the day. Five companies of Pakistan Army and two of Rangers were deployed in Multan besides about 17,000 police personnel to maintain law and order on the polling day.

The polling process at a female polling station in UC-58 got suspended when an alleged PML-N worker broke into the station and ran away with a ballot box. The accused, who was identified as Toti, was caught by the police later on. Police also arrested two female polling agents on suspicion of having link with Toti. Similarly, a supporter of an independent candidate got his leg broken while two others injured when two groups of workers clashed in UC-36. Four persons got injured when two groups of supporters of a PML-N candidate and an independent pelted stones on one another in Lakkar Mandi area. The violent mob also destroyed four motorbikes during the clash. In UC-80, police arrested an independent candidate Malik Fakhar for causing suspension of voting process and threatening presiding officer. Police also registered case against the brother of a PTI candidate from the same constituency namely Imran Mate, but he managed to escape from the spot. A political activist was injured in a firing incident which took place in UC-159 Jalalpur Khakhi. Police said that a PML-N worker Abbas Bhutta had opened the fire and he had been caught.

The third and last phase of local government election took place in 12 districts of Punjab and six Karachi simultaneously. The ECP had set up 1,793 polling stations including 543 male, 583 female and 620 combined to facilitate 2,262,047 registered voters in Multan. A total 4,535 candidates contested election for Chairman, Vice Chairman and General Councillor offices in Multan district out of which 284 candidates are vying for Chairman/Vice Chairman office and 1,463 councillor in the limits of Municipal Corporation Multan.

Similarly, 483 candidates ran for Chairman/Vice Chairman and 2,305 General Councillor offices in district council. In Shujabad Municipal Committee 54 candidates are vying for 12 Ward seats and Jalalpur Pirwala 69 for 12 ward seats.

Polling held amid minor clashes, arrests

DERA GHAZI KHAN/AHMEDPUR EAST/

RY KHAN

No serious violence has been reported from anywhere during polling up till evening but sporadic incidents of clashes between rival parties and groups contesting the elections as well as between the supporters of the contestants and police continued to pour in throughout the day.

In nine union council of tribal area almost women 80 percent are barred from voting due to non posting of female polling staff by District Election Commissioner DG Khan. In Baluch tradition, women are not allowed to cast vote especially in the presence of male polling staff. This reality has become practical picture today when only 10-15 original aged women polled at Polling station Dalana of UC-96 up till evening.

According to sources, despite the order of commissioner DG Khan and DCO DG Khan regarding deployment of Rangers at UC -96, Political Assistant of Tribal Area has not followed this direction.

Many polling stations namely Binder, Lakha and Chor of UC-96 Toman Khosa, Lophani and Mach Chandia of UC No. 95 Mubarki remained closed for 2 to 3 hours due to disturbance by armed men.

Talking to The Nation, Shahid Mahmoob Political Assistant BMP denied information regarding stoppage of polling at tribal area.

Many irregularities and mismanagement at the polling stations at Government Degree College for boys Block No. 17 DG Khan, Government Comprehensive School, Government Girls School No. 2 Kangan Road and Polling station of UC-03, 01 and 11 have been seriously observed.

OPPONENTS ACCUSE RULING

PARTY CANDIDATES

In Ahmedpur East, voters cast votes for 35 rural union councils and 41 wards of Municipal Committee Ahmedpur East and 10 wards of Municipal Committee Uch Sharif.

In ward number-1 of MC Ahmedpur East, polling started at 10:30am at female polling station Chah Ghulam Rasool Wala due to unavailability of election staff, while presiding officer left this polling station at 12 noon.

Rival candidates of the ruling PML-N alleged that some rural polling stations abruptly to benefit the ruling party candidates. The Circle police under the supervision of DSP Allah Dad Luck had made foolproof arrangements to maintain peace while Army jawans were also deployed at all sensitive polling stations.

Bahawalpur RPO Ehsan Sadiq and DPO Sarfraz Ahmed Falki visited Ahmedpur East, Chanigoth and other areas and reviewed security arrangements. They also checked several police stations and directed DSP Allah Dad and the SHOs concerned to ensure maintenance of peace.

PRESIDING OFFICER, STAFF,

OTHERS HELD

In Rahim Yar Khan, the polling for the third phase of local bodies elections completed in the district on Saturday. The situation overall remained peaceful during the polling except some minor clashes among workers of political parties.

In Union Council Thul Khair Muhammad Mauza Faizabad in the jurisdiction of Rukanpur Police, a presiding officer and his subordinates were arrested by the police. Presiding Officer Faqir Ahmed was allegedly supporting two PPP candidates and on a complaint, the police raided the polling station and recovered 800 fake ballot papers from him. DPO Zahid Nawaz Murwat also reached the spot. Later, the Returning Officer ordered to send him jail.

In another incident, police arrested a fake journalist Naeem, holding a fake press card which was prepared by him by scanning election commission press card. Naeem was fined Rs5,000 and jailed him for one month. In Liaqatpur city, police arrested one Ayub, son of Allah Bachaya and recovered an illegal pistol from him. The police registered case against him under Anti-Terrorism Act 7ATA and sent him to jail. In another incident was reported in ward No 24 of Rahim Yar Khan where a fake cameraman was arrested. Naeem, son of Ramzan, a resident of Dastgir Colony over posing himself as fake cameraman of a tv channel. The presiding officer fined him Rs3,000 and sent him jail for one month.

In remit Tabasum Shaheed Police, the police arrested a man who burnt ballot papers and sent him to jail. In city Khanpur, a government employee was arrested on the charges that he was forcing voters to poll their votes on his dictation. In some areas of Khanpur like Deenpur colony and Chak 45/B clashes among voters and candidates was reported but after immediate action, the police brought the situation under controlled.

According to the political figures and social activists, credit for peaceful polling in district goes to DPO Zahid Nawaz Murwat who took necessary action before elections. More than 1,500 licensed arms were submitted voluntarily to the police and candidates also provided surety bonds to ensure peace in the district.