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2.8m to vote in tribal districts` first PA elections today

By Waseem Ahmad Shah 2019-07-20
PESHAWAR: A total of 2.8 million residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s merged tribal districts will exercise their franchise today (Saturday) to elect their representatives for 16 general seats of the provincial assembly in the first-ever provincial assembly elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has set up 1,897 polling stations across the region, previously called Fata.

Of them, 554 have been declared highly sensitive and 461 sensitive.

Polling will take place from 8am to 5pm.

The ECP finalised arrangements for elections on Friday and handed over the relevant materials to the polling staff in their respective areas.

While claiming to have adopted foolproof security for the polls, the government has said 34,497 security personnel have been deployed across the region and they included personnel of the Pakistan Army, police, Frontier Corps, Levies and Khasadar Force.

There are 285 candidates for 16 general seats, including nominees of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples PartyParliamentarians, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Qaumi Watan Party, and independents.

Two women candidates, including Naheed Afridi of the ANP and Malasa of the JI, are contesting election in PK106 Khyber-I and PK-109 Kurram-II respectively.

Of the 16 general seats, three are for Bajaurand Khyber tribal districts each and two for Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal districts each, while the former Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank jointly have one seat.

Five seats reserved for women and nonMuslims will be filled through proportional representation of seats won by a political party.

Eight candidates are in the running for four seats reserved for women, while there are three contestants for a seat reserved for non-Muslims.

A total of 2.80 million residents, including 1.67 million men and 1.13 million women, will exercise their right to vote.

Of the 1,897 polling stations, 482 are for men and 376 for women, while 1,039 are combined. A total of 5,653 polling booths have been established. They include 3,437 for men and 2,216 for women.

Also, the ECP has deputed 1,897 presiding officers,5,653 assistant presiding officers and 5,653 polling officers. While all polling stations are established in the respective constituencies, certain stations of PK-110 Orakzai and PK-112 North Waziristan-II have been set up in the adjoining settled districts for internally displaced persons.

Twenty-three polling stations have been established in Kohat for Mamuzai tribe, 23 in Hangu for Alikhel and Mulakhel tribes of Orakzai Agency, and 13 in Bannu for IDPs of PK-112 North Waziristan.

The ECP has already notified the deployment of the personnel of armed forces and civil armed forces outside every polling station and both outside and inside the highly sensitive polling stations from July 18th to July 21 for helping it conduct elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.

It has also assigned magisterial powers to the presiding officers and designated officerin charge of armed forces and civil armed forces for entire duration of their deployment in respect of offences under Elections Act`s Secdon 169 (personadon) and Secdon 171 (capturing of polling station or polling booth).

MEETING HELD: A meeting of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Apex Committee was held here to examine security arrangements for elections.

Chaired by Governor Shah Farman, the meeting was attended by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-General Shaheen Mazhar Mehmod. The committee expressed satisfaction with the finalised security plan under which 34,497 security personnel have been deployed in election areas.

Also, CCTV cameras have been installed in every polling station; contingency plan of health department is in place; aviation surveillance will be made available on Election Day, and quick response force and bomb disposal squad will remain active.

The committee also decided that deputy commissioners and district police officers would ensure that no one fire bullets in the air and that election victory processions are held peacefully.

An ECP official said the provision of RTS (result transmission system) under which the presiding officer was bound to send snapshot of the result of the count was not applicable to the polls due to the unavailability of internet facilities in several areas.

He, however, said the presiding officers were asked to send snapshots in the areas, where Internet f acilities were available.

The official said the provision of the RMS (result management system) would be applicable, while the returning officers would send the election results electronically to the commission as early as possible.

The ECP has also been keeping eye on women voting and has set up a help desk forreceiving complaints regarding genderrelated issues and its timely disposal on voting day.

The desk comprises ECP director (gender aff airs) Haroon Khan Shinwari and assistant Asad Iqbal.

Under the Elections Act the ECP is empowered to declare polling void in one or more polling stations or entire constituency if the turnout of women voters is less than 10 percent of the total votes polled in the constituency.

Following the passage of Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2018, the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas were merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The said amendment provided holding of first ever provincial assembly elections in the merged districts within a year of the holding of the 2018 general elections.

Our correspondent from Bajaur adds: The administration has declared 67 polling stations sensitive and 27 most sensitive of total 338 polling stations in three provincial assembly constituencies of Bajaur tribal district.

Deputy commissioner Usman Mehsud told reporters here on Friday that a total of 338 polling stations had been established in Bajaur district`s three provincial assembly constituencies, including PK-100, PK-101 and PK-102, while 67 of them had been declared sensitive and 27 most sensitive.

District returning officer Fazal Hakeem Khan told Dawn that 39 polling stations were for men and 36 for women, while 263 were combined polling stations. He said 543,003 voters, including 314,644 men and 219,353 women, would take part in elections.

Meanwhile, the residents complained about an acute shortage of public transport vehicles following the impounding of hundreds of such vehicles by the administration for election duty.