QUETTA - About 3.2 million voters would use their franchise right in local government elections in Balochistan province today (Saturday), with 18,000 contestants vying for councils, union councils, urban and rural wards.

According to officials, as many as 11,847 polling booths have been established across the province, and 50,000 security personnel are being deployed to ensure peaceful and transparent polling. Similarly, the ballet papers have been dispatched to all the polling stations.

Voting process would take place under 5,718 presiding officers, 1,554 assistant presiding officers and 12,376 polling officers. Two different green and white papers are being issued during the elections for the district council and union council ballet papers, whereas the urban areas would only have a single ballet paper. It may be mentioned here that as many as 2,507 candidates have already been elected unopposed and competition would be now on 4,168 seats. As many as 513 constituencies are included among those areas where no nomination papers were submitted at all.

Election Commission authorities say ballet papers have been dispatched to the districts through helicopters and planes of Civil Aviation Authority.

The election commission has highlighted nine district as sensitive: Turbat, Killa Saifullah, Kachi, Panjgoor, Awaran, Khuzdar, Kohlu, Dera Bugti and others. But all preparations have been completed in the said districts for the conduct of elections.

The provincial election commission has expressed its resolve to conduct elections despite threats in various districts. Sources in the election commission said directives had been issued to all the returning officers to implement the rules and regulations.

Agencies add: Voting in local bodies elections will start at 8:00 am and will continue till 5:00 pm without an interval. All security arrangements have been finalized for the polls.

The Balochistan government has announced public holiday on the election day. The government has also imposed Section-144 and banned pillion riding in the entire province from 6th to 10th of this month to make the whole electoral process peaceful and smooth.

The Section 144 will remain imposed in Balochistan from December 6 till December 10. Under this section, pillion riding, vehicles with tinted windows and display of weapons will be prohibited.

According to a statement released by Home and Tribal Affairs Department, the decision was taken to maintain law and order during the local bodies elections scheduled for December 7.

Meanwhile, a local holiday has also been announced for tomorrow in the wake of LG polls. Earlier, the election commission stated that voting will take place at more than 4,600 polling stations while 2,776 polling stations of Balochistan were declared sensitive.

The government banned double riding on motorcycles citing security reasons.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan government has showed its consent to provide foolproof security to the international observation missions for monitoring the Local Government elections. About 55,000 men of security forces have been deployed on 12,381 polling booths in 32 districts of the province to ensure peaceful conduct of elections. Categorizing the status of polling stations he said that as many as 2,776 polling stations were declared very sensitive, 1,581 as sensitive and 958 as normal.

Police, Balochistan Constabulary, Frontier Corps and Levis force personnel have been assigned elections duties while some 5,500 Army troops would remain as an additional force to retaliate as quick response force in the volatile areas of the province. Replying to a question, he contended that under the Constitution of Pakistan, Army has been called in aid of civil power.

Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasirul Mulk meanwhile said that preparations to hold local bodies elections in Balochistan were completed.

Talking to media at the Quetta airport soon after his arrival here, Mulk said the Balochistan government deserved credit for timely legislation and completing other formalities for holding LB polls, ahead all of other provinces, in the country.

He said law and order was improving in Balochistan, and LB polls would take place on time.