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Cameras installed, security forces deployed at polling stations.

Byline: Shahabullah Yousafzai

PESHAWAR -- Provincial assembly elections in newly merged districts ended peacefully on Saturday.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governer Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza Muhammad Khan in their separate messages congratulated the people on peaceful holding of elections in ex-Fata.

All political parties had pitched their candidates for the provincial assembly elections in seven merged districts and out of a total of the 285 candidates, 200 are running on independent status, while two women also run for the general seat against the male-dominated political atmosphere.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has brought the most candidates into the tribal area's elections with 16 candidates, while the Jamiat-Ulema-Islam-F (JUI-F) closely followed with 15 candidates. Meanwhile, Awami National Party (ANP) filed papers of the 14 candidates and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with 13 each, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) followed with five and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) with three candidates into the race, while the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and JUI(S) running in the political race with two each.

Meanwhile, in regards to security, out of 1,800 polling stations, 514 were termed as highly sensitive, 461 are sensitive, while security cameras were installed into the most sensitive polling booths.

The general reaction toward the electioneering process was very positive. Despite it being summer, a time of severe heat waves, several people, including women, people with disabilities have been pouring into the polling stations.

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Furthermore, Corps commander Peshawar inspected the security measures in the merged districts while people responded to his arrival with patriotic slogans.

Security measures

Newly merged police, levies, Khasadar and security forces were deployed at all stations across the merged districts, while security forces remained outside the polling stations. Meanwhile, police officials were assessing security measures at the polling stations.

Cameras were also installed on the premises of the polling stations, while extra cameras were installed in the most sensitive polling booths, schools and the number of the security officials at the stations was also enhanced after the fear of miscreant's activities.

To record the percentage of women at the polling booths and also to look into the tribal traditions, the women polling booths were termed as no go areas for the male polling agents.

The locals also showed their satisfaction on the security measures at the seven merged districts, while also appreciating the role of the newly extended police, merged khasadar force, levies and security force.

Only three incidents of firing and a scuffle have been recorded into the South Waziristan, Mohmand and Khyber tribal districts. However, one such incident resulted in the death of a police personnel death, while injuring three others in three incidents.

Polling in the Mohmand polling station was stopped after a fight took place in one of the polling stations, however, it was resumed afterwards once the security forces enforced security measures.

Women search officers were also appointed at the most sensitive polling stations in North and South Waziristan, while their cooperation was also welcome from the women voters. The initiative was also welcomed by the election commission.

Women participation

Unprecedented women participation was recorded in the merged districts' polling stations during the elections in the erstwhile FATA, despite the traditional constraint on women of local culture that does not encourage them to participate in social development and politics. On this day they participated with full courage.

Gulmeena Bibi of the Khyber tribal district while talking to The Express Tribune said, 'previously women were seen participating in the elections once in the five or more years, but now we are voting for our local politicians, who lived in our tehsil Jamrud, that is why were are out and have asked other women to come and vote, that is why we are here in large numbers.

'We need to make sure our need for education, healthcare and clean water is acknowledged and addressed,' Bibi added.

There are a total of the 2.8 million registered voters in the seven merged districts, over 1.1 million of whom were women voters, while two women candidates of the merged districts are running on the general seat which includes one from ANP Khyber tribal district Naheed afridi and Mulasa Bibi from JI.

KPCSW measures

The Women's Elections Complaint Cell was set up by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women (KPCSW) for receiving complaints faced by women voters, contestants and staff. The Commission kept an eye on the implementation of safeguards against harmful practices impeding women's smooth participation in historic elections in the newly merged areas (NMDs). The cell refered the complaints received to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)and to the district monitoring teams so they could quickly address the problems.

Promising atmosphere

The political and electioneering process in the merged districts has shown positive signs in the political, security lifeline of the merged districts history, which also reflected that the federation was far too serious in bringing the merged districts into the embed of the constitution framework and also to address their deprivations.
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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jul 21, 2019
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