PESHAWAR   -  The polling for first-ever provincial elections in the merged tribal districts concluded on Saturday. Except for a few unpleasant incidents, the voting went smoothly for the 16 seats designated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly for the erstwhile Fata.

Independent candidates were leading the polls for the 16 general seats   named PK-100 to PK-115   in Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Kurram, South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai and Frontier Regions, according to unofficial and partial election results.

The independent candidates had won two seats and they were leading in five other constituencies, according to unofficial results.

Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had won one seat and was leading on three other fronts, while Awami National Party (ANP) had also won one slot and it was leading in another constituency.

As for the rest of the seats, Jamat-e-Islami was leading in two constituencies while Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) was on first position in one contest.

Complete unofficial results had arrived from four constituencies   PK-103, PK-105, PK-106 and PK-111.

PK-103 (Mohmand-I): According to unofficial results of all the 45 polling stations, ANP candidate Nisar Ahmed had won here by securing 11, 225 votes. PTI’s Rahim Shah was runner up here.

PK-105 (Khyber-I): As per unofficial results of all 110 polling stations, independent candidate Shafiq Sher Afridi had won the seat with 18,135 votes, while independent candidate Sher Khan finished second with 6,767 votes.

PK-106 (Khyber-II): As per unofficial results of all 89 polling stations, Independent candidate Bilal Afridi had won here with 12,800 votes, while PTI’s Amir Khan Afridi was runners up with 6,561 votes.

PK-111 (North Waziristan-I): PTI candidate Muhammad Iqbal Khan had won here by pocketing 12,000 votes while JUI-F’s Samiuddin finished second with 2,000 votes, according to the unofficial results.

The situation on the rest 12 seats as per the incomplete, unofficial results was as follows:

PK-100 (Bajaur-I): The results of 77 polling stations had received according to which PTI’s Anwarzeb Khan was leading with 10,916 votes, while JI’s Maulana Waheed Gul was trailing with 8,529 votes. ANP’s Gul Afzal had secured 5,913 votes.

PK-101 (Bajaur-II): According to the results of 60 polling stations, JI’s Haroon Rasheed was leading with 7,005 votes, while PTI’s Ajmal Khan had bagged 5,734 votes and ANP’s Lal Shah had got 4,817 votes.

PK-102 (Bajaur-III): According to the results from 82 polling stations, JI’s Sirajuddin was leading with 285 votes, independent candidate Khalid had gotten 135 votes. PTI’s Hameedur Rehman had received only 46 votes.

PK-104 (Mohmand-II): According to the results from 40 polling stations, independent candidate Malik Abbas was leading with 6,440 votes, while PTI’s Sajjad Mohmand had gotten 4313 votes. JUI’s Arif Haqqani secured 4,085 votes.

PK-107 (Khyber-III): According unofficial results, Independent candidate Hameedullah Jan was leading by securing 190 votes, whereas, PTI’s Haji Zubair was on second position with  136 votes at Wazir Shah Kalay polling station.

PK-108 (Kurram-I): According to the results of 57 polling stations, out of total 135, JUI-F’s Muhammad Riaz was leading with 4,616 votes while independent candidate Jameel Chamakni was following him with 3,842 votes while PTI’s Shahid Khan was trailing with 2,058 votes.

PK-109 (Kurram-II): As per results of 24 polling stations, out of total 131, PTI’s Iqbal Mian was leading with 9,229 votes, while independent candidate Inayat Ali was in second place with 3,944 votes.

PK-110 (Orakzai): According to the results of 47 polling stations, Independent candidate Ghazan Jamal was leading with 6,732 votes, while PTI’s Shoaib Hassan had got 2,541 votes.

PK-112 (North Waziristan-II): According to the results of 55 polling stations, Independent candidate Mir Kalam Wazir was leading with 5,559 votes while JUI’s Mufti Siddiqullah was trailing with 4,033 votes.

PK-113 (South Waziristan-I): As per vote count at seven polling stations, Independent candidate Abdul Waheed was taking the lead with 1,705 votes while JUI’s Assamuddin had bagged 564 votes so far. PTI’s Afsar Khan was on third position with 367 votes.

PK-114 (South Waziristan-II): The results of 56 polling stations were in. PTI’s Naseerullah was leading with 6,278 votes, while independent candidate Arif Wazir had bagged 4,952 votes.

PK-115 (Frontier Regions): According to the results of 13 polling stations, ANP’s Ghulam Qadir was leading with 1,228 votes, while JUI-F’s Shoaib Afridi was trailing with 989 votes. PTI’s Abid Rehman had secured 569 votes.

 Details of polling

The polling started at 8am amid tight security and continued until 5pm without break. As many as 2.8 million residents of the tribal areas, mostly situated along the Afghanistan border, were eligible for the voting in the historic election.

According to reports from the area, voter turnout remained encouraging. However, the voter turnout was reportedly low in far-flung areas situated in difficult hilly terrain because it was very difficult for the voters particularly women to reach at the polling stations and cast their vote.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set up 1,897 polling stations for voting for the elections. Of them, 554 stations were declared highly sensitive and 461 sensitive.

People in many districts had started lining up outside polling stations in the morning. The polling process started between 8am and 8:30am in several areas, the voters present inside the polling stations were allowed to cast their vote even beyond the 5pm deadline.

The tribal people seemed very enthusiastic and excited about the first-ever provincial elections after the merger of Fata (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The women voters also turned up in large numbers for casting votes, though their turn out was comparatively low in certain far flung areas.

The locals were hopeful that their elected representatives would raise issues of the tribal residents in the KP Assembly.

“Today is a historic day for all the tribal people after the scrapping of FCR law and merger of Fata,” said one voter.

The officers of the civil administration throughout the day visited the polling stations and supervised the election and security arrangements under their jurisdiction and issued on the spot instructions for redressal of the problems brought to their notice.

The ECP secretary also visited the control room established inside the commission’s secretariat in Peshawar after the polling ended. He was informed by officials that the commission received a total of four complaints from the voting areas.

 Expression of thanks

Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mehmud Khan and Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yusafzai congratulated the tribal people over successful holding of the elections.

The last phase of Fata merger has been completed, they said, adding that now a new era of progress and development would begin in the merged areas.

The tribal people have now got representation in the provincial legislature which will ensure better resolution of their problems. The historic day of elections would guarantee socio-economic development of the tribal people, they said.

They thanked Allah Almighty that the elections remained largely peaceful and said that tribal people demonstrated political maturity throughout the election process.

The entire credit for peaceful conduct of the election goes to the Pakistan Army, they said, adding the elections were a manifestation of the success of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 Violent incidents

Tens of thousands of troops and special police units were sent into the polling areas but there were complaints of rigging and influence peddling by some of the candidates and their supporters in several constituencies.

In South and North Waziristan, elections were overshadowed by the precarious security situation prevailing since the Khar Kamar incident on April 26. Since then terrorists have carried out a number of attacks in which several security men have been martyred.

Fresh sabotage incidents came in South and North Waziristan while an exchange of fire took place between the supporters of two rival political parties in Mohmand at a polling station when people were casting their votes.

The exchange of fire in PK-103 constituency left two men, a worker of the Awami National Party and a passerby, injured. However, voting continued at the polling station and the police were making efforts to arrest the suspects.

Some identified terrorists attacked a security checkpost in tehsil Boya of North Waziristan district in which six persons were injured. The injured were rushed to Miranshah District Hospital where two victims were stated to be in critical condition. After the attack, security forces cordoned off the area for search operation.

Security sources said it was a remote control bomb attack. The injured included two passersby, Usman and Farhad, and four soldiers, Naik Fazal Subhan, Sepoy Daud, Sepoy Sajid and Sepoy Ashfaq.

In South Waziristan, at least three people got injured in two separate incidents. Local sources said the first incident happened in Karkanre area of Sra Rogha tehsil in which two Frontier Corps personnel sustained injuries. In the second incident, in Shinkai area of Sra Rogha tehsil, a civilian was injured in a rocket attack.

One person lost his life and six others sustained injuries in an accident in Upper Orakzai, where a vehicle carrying voters fell into a ravine.

Police said the accident happened in Yakh Kandao area when supporters of independent candidate Malik Habib Noor were taking voters to a polling station in Hangu. The injured were taken to Hangu Hospital by the local people, which said a child travelling in the vehicle was also missing and search was underway to find him.

 KHYBER

Like elsewhere in the merged tribal districts, polling on three provincial assembly seats was carried out peacefully in Khyber district on Saturday amid tight security, Ahmad Nabi reported from the district. The polling started at 8am and continued till 5pm without any interruption.

“I cast vote in favour of my favourite candidate in a peaceful environment,” said Shakil-ur-Rehman, who was at a polling station in Piro Khel area of Landi Kotal to poll for PK-105 seat. However, he observed that the turnout was very low this time as compared to last year’s general elections.

Asad Khan, a presiding officer of 47 polling stations of Landi Kotal said that commendable arrangements had been made by the Election Commission to ensure free, fair and transparent elections. Voters had been properly educated on how to cast their vote, he added.

Khyber district in all has three provincial assembly seats. PK-105 comprises Zakha Khel, Shinwari, Shelmani and Mulagoris localities of Landi Kotal. PK-106 includes tribes of Koki Khel, Janda Khel, Kamr Khel and Malikdin Khel, while PK-107 contains areas of Kamber Khel, Sepah, Aka Khel and Shalober areas of Bara.

According the ECP, total registered voters in PK-105 are 167,484, 94,514 male and 72,970 female. PK-106 has 148,470 registered voters including 82,818 male and 65,652 female voters. PK-107 has 216,133 voters, 123,683 male and 92,450 female.

In PK-105, total 110 polling stations had been set up of which 58 were dedicated for men, 44 for women, while eight polling stations were combined. PK-106 had 89 polling stations   48 for men, 38 for women, and three combined. PK-107 had 146 polling stations   75 for men, 55 for women, and 16 combined.

As many as 56 polling stations had been declared most sensitive and extra security was provided.

Khyber Election Commissioner Nadeem Khan told The Nation that they had been directed to announce results of the elections till 2am on Sunday. He added that facilities had been provided to election crews to send their results on time.

 BAJAUR

Voting for three provincial assembly seats in Bajaur district was held in peaceful environment on Saturday, reported Anwarullah Khan.

The polling on PK-100, PK-101 and PK-102 started at 8am and continued till 5pm without any break. No unpleasant incident was reported at any polling station and the polling process finished peacefully.

The ECP had established 338 polling stations for the three constituencies out of which 67 were sensitive while 27 were most sensitive.

Strict security arrangements were witnessed at all polling stations. Besides deployment of security forces and Levies forces inside and outside the polling stations, CCTV cameras had also been installed at all polling stations to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.

All bazaars and trade centres remind closed across the district while the mobile internet service was also suspended during the polling time.

The Nation visited a number of polling stations in all the three constituencies and observed far less voters presence at all the polling stations than was seen in 2018 general elections.

Although a large number of women voted in all the three constituencies, their turnout too was expected to remain less than that of the general elections when it was recorded at 27 percent.

A number of candidates and their supporters gathered outside the polling stations told The Nation that the voter turnout was less than they had expected and had no idea why people were less participative this time.

Almost all political parties participated in the first ever provincial assembly elections, while a number of independent candidates also took part. According to the ECP, a total of 39 candidates contested on the three seats - 12 in PK-100, 15 in PK-101, and 12 in PK-102.