- Election morning starts with sluggish turnout, fewer voters in urban areas
- Lack of amenities, poor infrastructure affects polling in rural areas
ISLAMABAD: Federal capital Islamabad donned a festive look as its denizens, both elders and youngsters, went to polls in droves on July 25 to vote for their favourite candidates.
The main political parties and their supporters could be seen from early morning preparing camp offices and electoral lists and facilitating prospective voters.
In urban areas, the sluggish turn out remained largely the norm till 10 am when hardly a handful of voters were present in polling stations in G and F sectors, however, that made way for a bustling afternoon till 6 pm when voters thronged polling stations en masse.
In urban areas, most of the polling stations were situated in schools and colleges and the situation was drastic in rural areas coming under NA-52 and NA-53, where the poor infrastructure and lack of amenities made it really hard for handicapped individuals and old citizens to cast their votes in humid conditions. In rural areas of the capital, the voter turnout remained higher than urban localities as many locals thronged polling stations in the morning.
Empty roads and vacant camps mounted by polling agents of party loyalists and few voters in polling stations was largely the norm in F-6 and F-7, two posh sectors from where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supremo Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi were contesting the election.
Throughout the election day, the capital remained largely peaceful as hardly any scuffle was reported in media.
Interestingly, in all 12 polling stations visited by Pakistan Today, old citizens formed a sizable chunk who cast their votes alongside youngsters. Many of the old preferred to cast their votes in the morning while special arrangements were made to facilitate the physically handicapped.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Jahan Ara Begum, an octogenarian and former professor, said that her vote is for education. “Whoever strives to educate my children and my grandchildren will have my vote.” Although Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) went an extra mile to facilitate voters with mobile app and special helpline ‘8300’ to know where their polling booths are situated, multiple polling agents complained to Pakistan Today that both the app and message helpline were not working properly and the delay was causing inconvenience both to agents and voters.
It is pertinent to mention here that throughout rural and urban areas, both male and female voters participated with equal vigour and in equal numbers in all three constituencies.
Interestingly, dozens of slums in the capital, which predominantly remain in the fold of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have undergone change as PML-N and PTI have made inroads and for the first time, minorities stand divided as grouping divide slum dwellers along party lines.
Observers from European Union also visited various polling stations and met with SSP operations yesterday who briefed them on measures taken to ensure law and order in twin cities.
The government posted more than 20,000 law enforcement personnel in the federal capital and army soldiers were stationed to maintain the law and order situation.
Two clashes were witnessed in NA-52 Darowala Islamabad and outside the Rawalpindi Divisional Public School between PMLN, PPP and PTI workers but the administration controlled the situation immediately.
Earlier, Minister for Interior Azam Khan and Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar visited different polling stations along with Islamabad Commissioner Joudat Ayaz and IG Jan Muhammad.
The minister, while talking to media, said that the law and order situation remained peaceful around the country. “We did not receive any complaint of rigging so far but two incidents of the scuffle between PTI, PPP and PML-N workers occurred in Islamabad and NA-62 constituency,” he added.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAHZAD PARACHA