Polling for the second phase of the local government elections in the remaining 18 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is underway, amid tight security to avoid any untoward incident today (Thursday).
The first phase of local government elections in KP were held in December, where the ruling PTI had suffered a major setback as the opposition parties, particularly JUI-F, won a clean victory.
In a surprise move, JUI-F had emerged as a leading party with 23 seats of tehsil chairpersons and three mayoral seats. However, KP’s ruling party PTI had stood second with only one mayoral seat and 18 seats of tehsil chairpersons.
For the second phase, polling started at 8am and will continue till 5pm without any interruption.
A total of 28,020 candidates are in the run for different categories in the polls being held in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Torghar, Upper and Lower Kohistan, Kolai-Palas, Swat, Malakand, Shangla, Lower and Upper Dir, Upper and Lower Chitral, Kurram, Orakzai, and North and South Waziristan districts.
The LG elections are being held for the first time in the erstwhile tribal districts of Kurram, Orakzai, North and South Waziristan.
More security has been provided to the polling stations that have been declared sensitive and most sensitive, The News reported.
Over 8m voters expected to exercise right to vote
According to the ECP, polling is being carried out in 65 tehsils of 18 districts, where a total of 80, 57,474 registered voters will exercise their right to vote, out of whom 44,89,771 voters are male while 35,67,703 are female.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has declared 1,646 polling stations “most sensitive”, 2,326 “sensitive” and 2,069 normal out of the 6,176 polling stations. Adequate security arrangements have been made for the sensitive and most sensitive polling stations across the province
The ECP data showed that 39,554 candidates were vying for 12,875 seats.
A total of 651 candidates will contest for city mayor and tehsil chairman seats, 12,980 for general and neighbourhood councils, 2,668 for women seats, 6,451 for labour, 5,213 candidates for Kisan and youth seats and 57 have submitted nomination papers for religious minorities’ seats.
The election body has informed that a total of 1,318 candidates have been elected unopposed in 65 tehsils.
Some 351 candidates have been elected unopposed on general seats, 533 on women seats, 151 on labour and Kisan seats, 233 on youth seats and 50 on minority seats in Village and Neighborhood Councils.
All arrangements have been finalized as the Chief Election Commissioner, ECP secretary and special secretary are personally supervising the election process.
All polling material, including ballot papers, polling bags and polling staff were dispatched to all polling stations under strict security.
Special Assistant to the CM on Information Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif in a press conference said Wednesday that the government had completed all arrangements for the election day and foolproof security would be provided to 8.057 million people, who are exercising their right to vote in a peaceful environment.
He said compared to the first phase of the election, extra security has been provided to women candidates, adding that Pakistan army personnel would also be deployed if needed.
The ECP had expressed concern over the law and order at different polling stations during the first phase last year in December, after which the security was further upgraded.
The district administrations have also announced holiday for the schools in districts where the local government election would take place on Thursday.
Districts administration imposes section 144
Section 144 has been imposed on the recommendation of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police department in 18 districts of the province where polling is being continued.
According to the different notifications issued by the local administration, under section 144 display of arms, public rallies and gatherings, display of provocative banners, posters, entry of male agents in female polling stations and use of mobile in polling stations would be banned during the elections.
The public is requested in the polling districts to cooperate with police, district administrations and polling staff for the peaceful conduct of the second phase of local government polls.
Control room established to ensure peace in local body election
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also established an emergency control room in Chief Minister’s Secretariat to ensure the peaceful holding of local body elections.
According to a notification issued on Wednesday, Muhsin Iqbal, Deputy Secretary CM Secretariat has been nominated as the focal person for the control room.
The emergency control room would coordinate with stakeholders relating to information and emergencies and inform CM besides taking steps to prevent any untoward incident during the polls.