Islamabad -  Thousands of voters in Islamabad voted their favourite candidates for National Assembly on Wednesday in a contest that was mainly between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Imran-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.  No major incident of violence was reported in the capital city during polling hours. Nearly 0.765m voters were eligible to cast their ballots in the three constituencies; NA-52, NA-53 and NA-54. More than 70 candidates took part in the election in Islamabad but the real contenders on all three seats were PML-N and PTI candidates. Islamabad will send 3 MPs to the parliament. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had this time, added a National Assembly seat for the federal capital, to accommodate Islamabad’s population of over two million.

The polling process continued smoothly at the polling booths as the agents kept an eye on the process. No incident of rigging or violence was reported from the city polling stations. During the early hours of the day, the polling stations witnessed a rush of people but the crowd was reduced in the later half. There were no long queues outside the polling stations. The police and other law-enforcement agencies’ personnel strictly prohibited entry of irrelevant persons in the polling stations while all the voters had to undergo body search and identification process before entering the facility. The strict policy exercised by the security personnel helped to maintain discipline at the stations and the polling staff also remained comfortable. Carrying cell phones inside the polling booth was strictly prohibited and the voters were asked to leave their phones outside the polling station.  Majority of the educational institutions were converted into polling stations. The voters throng party camps to collect booth slips. Voters clad in colourful dresses, sporting caps of their party colours. Voters streamed in through the day into polling stations even in the noon when the weather was not ideal to come out. Thousands of police and paramilitary security personnel had been deployed to ensure smooth polling.  Showing his ink-marked finger after casting his vote at a Karachi Company polling station in sector G-9, Haseeb Abbas said: My vote will bring a change.

Talking to The Nation, Tariq Qadoos, Presiding Officer at polling station No. 183 in IMCB, sector I-10/1, Islamabad said that the voters faced no difficulty in casting their votes. “Nothing unusual happened at the polling station through the afternoon,” he said.  He said that around 50 percent of the total voters had casted their votes by 3pm. He added that a sufficient number of booths helped polling staff conduct the process in a hassle-free manner. Ashfaq Ahmed, polling agent of Awami Workers Party and Raja Asad Raza, polling agent of PML-N posted at the same polling station expressed their satisfaction with the polling process. Talking to The Nation, a voter Ammad Ali who had recently arrive from UK to participate in the election said that it was his national responsibility to cast vote. “I have been here to cast vote as I felt it my responsibility,” he said.

Masood Ahmed Khan, Presiding Officer at male polling station at IMCG I-8/2 said that everything was going well by that time. “The voters are casting their votes without any pressure… the process is going well,” he added.  When it comes to average voter turnout, the highest turnout was witnessed at the polling stations located in lower middle and middle class population including Bhara Kahu and Sector I-10 and rural areas of the capital. Low turnout was witnessed in posh areas of the capital including sectors F-6 and F-7 as compared to other areas. A polling station established at the Islamabad Model College for Girls, F-6/2 presented a deserted look till 1 pm as less than 10 voters were present in polling area at that time. According to a member of the polling staff, few voters came to poll.

Similarly, a large number of supporters were witnessed at the camps of PTI’s candidates in the posh sectors of the capital including sectors F-6, F-7, F-8 and F-10. However, a large number of activists were seen at the camps of PML-N’s candidates in the lower and middle class income areas.

 

 

tahir niaz & Imran mukhtar