Lahore/Hyderabad: Ruling parties were in the lead as unofficial results kept pouring in till late night for the second phase of Local Government Elections in Sindh and Punjab. PML-N had secured 651 seats in Punjab and PPP 652 in Sindh during Thursday’s polling in 26 districts of the two provinces. The voting, which overall remained peaceful, was stained with violence and reports of irregularities at some places. Three persons, two in Sheikhupura and one in Mandi Bahauddin, were killed and dozens injured in scuffles among workers and supporters of political parties and independent candidates.

Police arrested dozens of political activists for creating disturbance and violating election code of conduct in different districts. The Election Commission had postponed polling in 81 union councils of Sindh and nine of Punjab due to unlawful delimitation. In Punjab, polling was held for 2,399 seats in 12 districts: Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Attock, Jhelum, Mianwali, Chiniot, Toba Tek Singh, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Sheikhupura and Khanewal. But (unofficial) results of only 1457 seats were received till compiling of this report.

As per these results, ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was in the lead with 651 seats, followed by Independents who secured 539 seats. The main opposition in province, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) could secure 231 seats. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) again performed poor and could get only 10 seats. Jamat-e-Islami too pocketed only eight seats while PML-Q got just four slots. In Sindh, polling was held for 1,833 seats in 14 districts: Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Matiari, Dadu, Jamshoro, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Shaheed Benazir Abad, Naushero Feroz, Mirpur Khas, Umerkot and Tharparkar. Polling in Sanghar was postponed due to security reasons.

As per unofficial results for 924 seats that had been received, ruling PPP was leading with 652 seats, followed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which pocketed 100 slots. Independents got 87 seats while PML-N also made its presence felt in Sindh by securing 49 seats. Muslim League-F got 15, PTI 7 and JUI-F 3 seats. The most striking feature of Sindh election was the performance of PPP’s rebel Zulfiqar Mirza group, which won all 14 seats of Badin Municipal Committee. In Mianwali, the hometown of Imran Khan, PTI kept its grip by winning in 15 of the total 27 wards. Independents secured nine seats while ruling PML-N could grab only two seats from there.

A man and his nephew were killed in Sheikhupura while dozens others were wounded in scuffles in different areas of the district. Bashir and his nephew Sohail were supporting different parties’ candidates in UC-15 village Nangal Sadhan near Muridke. The nephew tried to persuade his uncle to cast vote in favour of a PML-N candidate. But when Bashir refused, Sohail in a fit of rage fired gunshots, killing his uncle on the spot. Later, he shot himself dead with the same pistol. The Muridke Saddr Police, however, described the incident as the result of a monetary dispute while some neighbours attributed it to 'honour killing'.

In UC 42 near Sharqpur, the area AC caught Presiding Officer Javed red handed while taking polling material to his home. However, when contacted, Javed accepted he was taking the election material home, saying “there was no security and safety at the polling station”. In UC-25 Kot Pindi Daas, 25 people including women suffered bullet injuries when supporters of two rival candidates opened fire on each other. Four of the injured were critical. Police arrested 10 people and polling was postponed due to the violence. In Safdarabad, four persons were injured when activists of PTI and PML-N scuffled. In UC-17 Muridke, unidentified persons barged into a women polling station; they made the polling staff hostage and made off with ballot boxes in presence of policemen who did nothing to stop them. A man was killed and 15 injured in clashes and scuffles among workers and supporters of different political parties in Mandi Bahauddin during a clash between two rival groups of the PML-N. Minor clashes were also reported from other areas of the district, mostly over accusations of fake vote casts.

In Gujranwala, despite the deployment of Rangers and Army, the polling was marred by clashes among supporters and workers of rival parties. The police also recovered arms including a Kalashnikov, one G3 rifle, 10 magazines, 100 rounds and 25 sticks from two vehicles in the Civil Lines area and arrested two persons identified as Faisal and Hameed. In tehsil Nowshera Virkan, firing was done at residence of State Minister Usman Ibrahim but no causality was reported. While in UC-52 Garjakh, a clash occurred between the workers of PTI and PML-N. Police also arrested five persons including a proclaimed offender from different areas during the polling.