ISLAMABAD: The thin presence of voters at the polling stations remains an issue as the polling for the first-ever Local government (LG) elections kicked off in the federal capital at 7.00am today.

Supporters of the candidates are seen at the camps set up outside the polling stations but majority voters are yet to rush towards the stations in the city where a considerable number of voters are the government employees. The government offices will close at 2:00pm and after that the polling stations are expected to witness influx of the government employees. Total 161 out of 1357 registered voters made their voice known at a female polling station set up inside Islamabad Model School No. 1 in sector I-10/4 by 11:45 in the morning. 33 out of 348, 24 out of 343, 30 out of 304 and 74 out of 363 registered voters cast their votes at the four booths of polling station no. 5 of UC 42.

The male polling station set up in the same building, however, have witnessed a bit healthy trend. Around 71, 88 and 100 votes were polled at three booths by the time. The presiding officer who wished not to be named said:"We can't do anything about the turnout". Talking to The Nation, Raja Zubair who was sitting in a polling camp in I-10 sector blamed the government for low turnout particularly in the morning. “The government did not declare holiday in the city which is the main cause for low turnout of the voters in the morning”, he believed. Around 237 votes were polled at a male polling station set up inside IMS in sector F-6/3 (Kohsar Market) by 2pm, showing a low turnout.

On the other hand, polling process continues smoothly with no major incident of violence and rigging so far. The candidates have set up their camps quite close to one another outside the polling stations with no element of hostility. Two brothers Zeeshan Rauf Butt and Imran Rauf Butt who were entering the school building were quite happy that all was continuing in a smooth and fair manner. “We have faced no difficulty in reaching inside the polling station… we are free to cast our votes according to our will” Zeeshan said when asked if they faced any difficulty from any quarter. Polling will continue till 5.30pmwithout any break.

The ECP has set up a control room to register voter complaints. The control room can be contacted at 051-9210816, 9210817 and 9210818.

Police and other law-enforcing personnel are guarding the polling stations so that no incident of violence takes place.

A round of the city polling stations suggests great enthusiasm amongst the supporters but no long queues of the voters. Polling in the urban areas is expected to gain momentum after the closure of offices at 2.00 pm.

Meanwhile, at around 1300 hrs, Islamabad police apprehended 4 suspecious personnel and recovered 03 SMGs and 2 pistols from them in the area of Koral police station.