LAHORE - Her family had convinced her not to cast her vote as she was very weak after the illness she had to face a couple of months ago. She, however, insisted on casting her vote as a national obligation. No one knew it would prove to be the most arduous task of octogenarian Rehmat Bibi’s life.

The time was out of joint and there was no one to set it right yesterday. Rehmat Bibi like many other voters and common people had to wait for over nearly two hours as security parameters had been put up for prime minister of Pakistan to cast his vote at a school opposite Jamia Mosque Australia Chowk near Railway Station. Nobody was allowed near the polling station as part of the security measures for the PM. The whole area was cordoned off.

The octogenarian, who was accompanied by her grand children, wanted to cast her vote and go home as soon as possible. But it was not to be so. She, like many others, had to wait for one and a half hour to get inside the polling station to vote. Police did not allow any movement while the voters were barred from reaching the polling station from both sides of the road. Sniffer dogs had been brought to check the area for any explosives. The policemen formation on all the routes near the polling station did not allow any movement what so ever. Reportedly the polling could not take place between 1:45pm to 3:15 pm thanks to tightened security. A protest was staged at the venue by workers of PPP led by Sajjida Mir. However, there was no protest when the PM arrived.

It was not just the pedestrians who had to suffer due to VVIP protocol but also people who had gone to Jamia Mosque Australia for Zohr prayers. The doors of the mosque were closed and people were told to stay calm and wait till the prime minister’s visit was over. People had no option but to stay inside the mosque. Most came out after offering Asr prayers.

The question is whether there should be VVIP movement at an event like election especially in congested areas. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary remedies. The election commission may in future create special polling booths for VVIPs so there is no hindrance in the holding of elections.