Polling underway for Cantonment Board elections across country

The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) will deploy 120 “legally accredited, duly-trained and non-partisan observers” to observe the local government elections in 39 Cantonment Boards


At least 1,559 candidates hailing from several political parties are vying in 42 cantonment boards’ elections currently underway across Pakistan amid strict security measures.

Hours after the polling began, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) detained two men impersonating as polling agents from a women’s polling station in Clifton’s ward number 4 in Karachi.

The ‘fake polling agents’ who were handed over to the police were said to belong to different political parties and were present inside a polling station without the required documents. ‘659 independent nominees’ Besides 659 independent nominees, 143 candidates are fielded by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI); the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded 112 nominees; while 104 candidates are running for the cantonment seats on the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) platform.Jamat-e-Islami has 104 candidates in the run; banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) has fielded 86 nominees; Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has 42 candidates; while Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) have fielded 35 and 34 nominees, respectively. At least 2,197,741 voters – including 1,154,551 men and 1,043,190 women – would exercise their right to vote from 8am to 5pm without any break. As many as 1,644 polling stations and 5,080 polling booths have been set up for 219 wards of the 42 cantonments.

However, the election couldn’t be held in 13 wards due to multiple reasons: seven candidates have been elected unopposed; in four out five Kamra wards, elections have been postponed due to constituency disputes; while in Pano Aqil and Rawalpindi, elections were delayed in two wards after the candidates pass away. CCTV cameras have been installed at sensitive polling stations. Apart from the police, paramilitary personnel would be present outside the premises of the polling station. The ECP has given magisterial powers to the officers in charge of Rangers and FC.

According to the instructions issued by the ECP, the use of mobile phones would be banned inside the polling station during the election process. This rule also applies to the polling agents; however, presiding officers and assisting presiding officers would be exempted from such rules.

The commission has maintained that the polling process, which would start from 8am, would continue till 5pm without any break. “The media can broadcast the unconfirmed and unofficial results one hour after the polling ends,” according to the ECP. It has also set up a complaint centre in the secretariat for effective monitoring of elections. It is pertinent to mention that the successful candidate from his ward will become a member of the cantonment board. The newly-elected members will elect the vice president.

Moreover, the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) will deploy 120 “legally accredited, duly-trained and non-partisan observers” to observe the local government elections in 39 Cantonment Boards.

“As many as 74 men and 46 women observers will observe the voting and counting processes at around 460 polling stations – almost 30 per cent of the total polling stations set up by the ECP for these elections,” read a statement. “In line with Section 238 of the Elections Act, 2017, FAFEN has trained these observers on election laws, rules and procedures to objectively observe and document the voting and counting processes at their assigned polling stations,” it read. The ECP has granted accreditation cards to Fafen observers after fulfilling the procedural formalities. FAFEN will release its observation report on Wednesday to the media and other stakeholders.

In Karachi, polling is underway in 42 wards of six cantonment boards. At least 343 candidates, including nine women and 105 independent candidates, are in the fray. The Clifton Cantonment Board also has the votes of various political and social personalities, including President Arif Alvi.

In Hyderabad, eights seats are up for grabs and 54 candidates are in the run. 35 polling stations have been set up for more than 48,000 voters. Seven polling stations have been declared “highly sensitive”.

In Lahore, 268 nominees are in the run for 20 seats in Lahore Cantt and Walton Cantt. There are 110 candidates contesting the Lahore Cantonment seats while 158 are vying for the Walton Cantt seats. It is expected there’d be a tough contest between the PML-N and PTI.

Polling is also underway in five cantonment boards of Rawalpindi district: Rawalpindi, Chaklala, Murree, Taxila and Wah. At least 1,604 polling stations have been set up for 664,894 registered voters.

Elections are being held in 33 wards in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 10 in Abbottabad; five in Peshawar; four in Nowshera; three each in Risalpur and Kohat; and two each in Mardan, Bannu, DI Khan and Havelian. At least 169 candidates are contesting across the province. 131 polling stations have been set up across the province, out of which 54 are for men, 52 for women and 25 are joint polling stations.

Polling is taking place in eight out of nine wards in Quetta, Zhob and Loralai. There are five candidates vying for one seat in Loralai.

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