The polling concluded peacefully for seven National Assembly (NA) and 14 provincial assembly (PA) seats on the eve of general elections in the Rawalpindi district on Thursday.
Tight security measures were put in place to guard polling stations. A couple of minor untoward incidents were reported. The administration and the police faced problems due to mobile phone and internet outages.
Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ijaz and international observers visited different polling stations and reviewed the overall situation. Supported by the Pakistan Army and law enforcement agencies, the Rawalpindi police had deployed 9,500 cops for peaceful and transparent conduct of polls.
The polling process began 10 to 15 minutes late at most of the polling stations. Long queues of voters were seen in the housing societies and at the city’s roundabouts early in the morning. The voter’s turnout was hardly up to 12% by 12pm, but later it gained momentum at the polling stations in city and Cantt areas.
The polling started with a delay of about three hours at the Government High School, Murree Karur due to the polling material problem. A scuffle broke out at the female polling station of category B in the NA-53 constituency, Pind Jhatla, where voters pushed and dragged each other for breaking the queue. Policemen brought the matter under control.
Read: Hours after polling, nation awaits final results of elections
The polling process halted for almost 45 minutes due to skirmishes between the workers of the PML-N and the PTI at the polling station Government Boys High School, Bhangi Hazro and polling station UC Office, Northopa Attock respectively in NA-49 Attock.
Four people were injured in a fight between the supporters of Ghulam Sarwar Khan of the Istehkam Pakistan Party (IPP) and Saad Ali Group of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) outside Government Boys High School, Mohra polling station in NA-54, PP-12 Taxila.
A collision between vehicles at a polling station on Mandira-Chakwal Road led to firing as members of a party went inside the polling station, while their opponents opened fire in the air in reaction. The main road was blocked in protest. Policemen handled the situation and got the road cleared, assuring timely arrests of the violators.
Some PTI supporters clashed with the rivals after the party’s camp was demolished at a polling station near the Punjab House in the NA-57 constituency. The Elite Police officials intervened in the matter and brought the situation under control.
During the polling, a delegation of Commonwealth Observers, headed by Madhavan Muhammad, paid a visit to the RO Office of NA-52 and PP-8 in Gujar Khan and also reviewed the polling process at MC Boys Higher Secondary School.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th 2024.