Lahore: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was ahead of its rivals, mainly the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), in most of the 12 Punjab districts as unofficial results of the second part of local body polls poured in on Thursday night.
As was being anticipated, a large number of independent candidates — many linked to the ruling party — also won with the PTI trailing behind the PML-N and independents.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was nowhere in the competition.
At about midnight, the PML-N was reported to have bagged 600-odd seats and the independent candidates 455. The PTI lagged far behind with 199 seats.
No serious violence was reported from anywhere during or after polling, but sporadic incidents of clashes between rival parties and groups contesting the elections as well as between the supporters of the contestants and police continued to pour in throughout the day.
PTI trailing behind ruling party
At least 25 people were reported to have sustained injuries during poll-related clashes while police took scores into custody. In Chiniot, the police arrested three winning candidates for violating the section 144.
Most incidents of clashes were reported from the four districts — Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad and Mianwali — marked by the Punjab government as most sensitive of the 12 districts where polling for the second phase was held. The eight other districts were Chiniot, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Khanewal, Mandi Bahauddin, Jhelum, Chakwal and Attock.
Out of 14.7 million voters, including 6.4m women, a good number of voters turned up to elect their local representatives.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which observed the elections in selected districts in Punjab and Sindh, claimed women faced difficulties in a number of places in asserting their right to franchise.
“In one union council in Sargodha district and one in Toba Tek Singh district, women voters were barred from voting, apparently following agreements among the candidates,” the commission said in a statement.
In contrast to reports of people carrying their womenfolk to polling stations to get their votes cast, Liliani, a small town of Sargodha district, maintained its tradition of barring women from using their right to franchise. Not a single vote was cast at the polling station marked for women there.
“Despite a jirga decision in Mianwali, women there were able to exercise their right to franchise, though in small numbers, after civil society activists drew the attention of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) towards this bid to keep women from voting,” it added.
The ECP had received 56 complaints of irregularities and mismanagement at the polling stations, mostly from Mianwali, Sargodha, Chiniot and Toba Tek Singh. Many complaints pertained to misprinting of ballot papers, delay in the commencement of polling and late or short supplies of election material, particularly ballot papers.
Media was barred both by the polling staff and the candidates from covering voting process at some places. In Hafizabad, the returning officer, Muhammad Nawaz, went to various polling stations and with the help of police got the reporters removed from the scene.
In Mianwali, the supporters of a PML-N candidate allegedly manhandled media men, who had gone to a Daud Khel polling station to verify reports of rigging.
In Sargodha, police disallowed journalists from entering a female polling station when local PTI leaders alleged rigging was going on. The PTI also alleged last-minute changes in the deployment of polling staff. A woman voter was arrested in Sargodha for casting multiple votes.
Police arrested three people impersonating as ECP officials from UC-140 of Sargodha.
Read : Despite hiccups, PPP victorious in Sindh; Mirza pulls off upset in Badin; dozens injured in clashes