For the first time since the local government elections began, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is leading the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) by a slim margin according to unconfirmed and unverified results, as counting got underway in the first local government elections in the federal capital, Islamabad.
Initial results showed that PTI had won ten Union Council Chairman seats while the ruling PML-N lagged behind with 6 seats. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) managed to take only one seat while independent candidates took 9. The capital has a total of 50 union councils.
Overall results again put PTI on top with 54 seats with PML-N managing only 11. Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), PPP and ANP had taken barely half a dozen seats between them with independents winning 17 seats.
The real contest was always going to be between PML-N and PTI. The two parties had earlier battled in two phases of the local government elections in Punjab and Sindh. PML-N dominated both phases of the elections but as the scene shifted to Islamabad, PTI focused its efforts to register at least one victory, with the PTI Chairman Imran Khan making a risky move of flouting explicit orders from the ECP not to hold a rally in Islamabad.
However, PML-N hoped for some change in fortune as results from the outskirts of the area start pouring in where the party is believed to have a strong support base. PTI, on the other hand hopes to pocket a majority of seats from the urban localities of the federal capital.
The PML-N’s local government campaign had been marred in the capital by infighting and emergence of rebel groups within its ranks. The PML-N government followed its practice of scheduling development works in the constituency merely days ahead of the polls, but this time, it may not be enough.
On Monday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected calls by some political parties to extend the polling time, saying that those who were inside the premises of polling stations would be allowed to cast their votes. Polling had started at 7AM in the morning, an hour earlier than the usual 8AM and continued till 5:30PM.
Polling was held peacefully in amid low voter turnout and high security. ECP announced that it had received 30 complaints of minor nature.
Statistics released by the ECP said that 2,396 candidates were in the run for seats of chairman, vice chairman and councilors. As many as 18 candidates were elected unopposed.
Those elected unopposed include five general councilors, three women and nine minority candidates, while a youth was also elected unopposed.
Rahish Kumar, a minority candidate from the PML-N, was elected from UC-45. A female councilor from the PTI was also elected.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place to maintain law and order in the capital.
Enthusiasm was witnessed among voters who reached the polling station even before the polling started. They had to wait as the polling staff was not ready to facilitate them.
As soon as the polling started, long queues were seen at different polling stations in the suburbs like Model Town, Bara Kahu, Margalla Town and the areas in Golra and Tarnol.
Some 625 army troops and 700 personnel of Rangers in addition to police personnel were deployed in the capital for the purpose.
Unlike voters in the three phases of the local government elections, voters in Islamabad were set to elect 13 representatives directly. These included a chairman, vice chairman, six general members, two women members, one labour member, one youth member and one non-Muslim member. In local government elections elsewhere voters were only to elect general members directly. These members, or councilors, would then elect their colleagues.
According to an ECP spokesperson, six kinds of ballot papers were used for the 13 seats of each union council and ECP had dispatched over four million ballot papers to the district returning officers (DROs).
Voters used green ballot paper for the seat of chairman and white for general seats. Each voter cast six votes in the LG elections of the ICT.
According to ECP, 255 candidates were in the race for the seats of chairmen and vice-chairmen, whereas 1,210 running general councillor seats. For women seats, 351 had announced their candidature, while for the seats reserved for workers, 248 candidates were in the run. As many as 230 were vying for seats meant for youth while 102 for seats reserved for non-Muslims.
Of the estimated two million population in the territory, 676,795 were registered voters. Out of these, 366,899 were men and 309,896 were female voters.
ECP had established a total of 640 polling stations. Of these, 261 were for men and 256 for women. Another 123 polling stations were for both men and women. ECP had established a total of 2,156 polling booths for the polls, with 1,121 for men and 1,035 for women.