Complaints about army personnel not letting polling agents of independents received from several polling stations
The voter turn-out in NA-122 and PP-147 where Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Ayaz Sadiq and Mohsin Latif were facing off Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf’s Aleem Khan and Shoib Siddique picked momentum in the afternoon as large queues were witnessed in front of polling stations.
Large turn-out, including senior citizens, women and youth, was observed at polling stations in Garhi Shahu and Samanabad and on Multan Road, Allama Iqbal Road, Bahawalpur Road and Allama Iqbal Road.
Nusrat Jabeen, a middle-aged woman who cast her vote on a wheel chair, told The Express Tribune that she had left home immediately after offering her Fajr prayer. “I believe it is the duty of every Pakistani to cast their votes to strengthen democracy in the country,” he said.
However, it had taken the voters some time to leave their homes to cast ballots. They were outnumbered by party activists and security officials till noon.
Activists of PTI and PML-N remained charged all day, gathering at their camp offices near polling stations and chanting slogans in favour of their candidates and rallying on major thoroughfares in the constituency.
Barring a few polling stations, voting started on schedule at 8am in the morning.
There were 248 polling stations for 347,762 registered voters of the constituency. Of these, 190,328 were men and 157,434 women.
Polling continued throughout the day under supervision of army personnel.
Compensation not enough: polling staff
Polling Staff at several polling stations complained about insufficient compensation for election duties. A female staffer said she was paid Rs1,450 for three days’ work. She complained that the compensation was meager compared to the efforts required of them.
Polling staffers also complained about inadequate arrangements for food and water.
‘Army personnel aren’t letting my agents in’
There were complaints about army personnel not allowing polling agents of independent candidates to enter polling stations. In some stations, party workers said not more than one agent was allowed inside.
Khurram Qureshi, an independent candidate, said his polling agents were allowed entry for several hours. “I’m finding it extremely difficult to get my political agents inside the polling stations,” he said
Errors in voters lists were also reported in some areas. PTI’s central deputy information secretary Farrukh Habib said several people had contacted him and complained about trouble locating their votes. They said their votes were not registered in the polling stations where they had cast ballots in 2013, he said.
Voters were not allowed to carry any belongings like cell phones inside the stations. They complained that the rule should have been conveyed to them in advance. “I had to call a friend to handover my cell phone as the army official deployed at the entrance refused to let me in with it,” said a voter in Garhi Shahu. There was no such restriction in 2013, he said.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, DCO Capt (r) Muhammad Usman said there were some intelligence agencies about threats of terrorism attacks but the day remained peaceful. He commended security agencies for ensuring law and order. He said minor incidents were reported in some areas but there was nothing worrisome about them.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2015.