February 8, 2024

By Bilal Baseer


LAHORE

 

A cold and windy morning in the twin cities on Thursday contributed to sluggish voter turnout, but as the day passed, the numbers increased. 

Overall, polling in Islamabad and Rawalpindi constituencies concluded smoothly, amid a few complaints, however, according to Muhammad Taqi Jawad, spokesperson of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police, no incidents of violence were reported and law enforcement was able to ensure a secure environment.

Jawad told Voicepk that the voting process remained peaceful and that police would remain deployed until all results were handed over by the Presiding Officers (POs) to their respective Returning Officers (RO).

But a noticeable lack of excitement marred the election season this year, as compared to the 2018 elections. While the atmosphere remained calm and peaceful, some complaints were received in the early morning about 15-minute delayed starts in polling stations in rural areas, attributed to unprepared polling agents. Some voters claimed the staff had misbehaved with them.

Approximately 1.2 million people were registered as voters in Islamabad, with women constituting 47 percent of the electorate. In areas such as F6, F7, G9, G10, and G11 under NA-47 and NA-48, the turnout of women voters was more than that of areas in Rawalpindi.

While speaking to Voicepk, voter Misbah Kamran, said that despite the bitter cold, she had come out to cast her vote because she felt it was her duty and ensure that her voice was heard.

“The elections this year may lack the usual buzz, but it is essential to focus on the democratic process,” she added.

Rabia Bugti, a journalist who was covering the elections, said there was a lack of excitement but it was a sign of hope that people knew the importance of polling.

“Compared to 2018, there is definitely a lack of excitement, but voters still participated. I hope complaints about misbehaving staff are addressed to improve future elections,” she added.

Voter Asad Awan said that despite initial issues, the voting process in his area went efficiently and well managed.

“Elections are the basis of democracy, and today reminded me of the collective power we hold as citizens,” he said. “I reached early at the polling station along with my family and easily cast my vote without any hurdles.”

Meanwhile, Asmatullah, a resident of Bharakhau, Islamabad complained that due to the shutdown of mobile and internet services, he faced difficulty in polling his vote.

“I had to visit three different polling stations to find out where my vote is registered as I was from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and my vote was last time shifted to Islamabad on my temporary address,” he claimed.

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