The youth vote: Islamabad wakes up from slumber

Published: May 14, 2013

Ultimately, voters expressed through their ballots that it is the people who hold the real power. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

During the first six hours of polling, over 1,000 of the total 1,500 registered voters in Chak Shahzad had cast their ballots. The presiding officer at the polling station said the turnout witnessed was the largest in the district’s history.

“I have never seen this many people at polling stations before. The number of youth coming out to vote for the first time is unprecedented,” he said.

It was also a day of firsts for upper class citizens of the capital, who came out in droves to cast their votes. Many arrived at polling stations and stood in long queues well before 8am, the officer said.

The record turnout has had a significant impact on the political power structure in Islamabad, where citizens favoured the “forces of change”.

“The majority of youth have voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI),” said an assistant presiding officer at a polling station in NA-49’s Rawal Town. PTI’s Ilyas Meherban gave the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry a run for his money in the constituency.

Considering he was not even counted among the top three candidates during campaigning, Meherban put in a good showing.

With 57,160 votes to his name, he surpassed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who secured 44,646 votes, and Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Zubair Farooq, who were dubbed as favourites.

“My vote is for Imran Khan,” said a woman who cast her vote at the Rawal Town polling station. She admitted that she was not aware of who Meherban was.

According to estimates from urban polling stations, Meherban, who was in a weak position pre-polls, gained a lead of 4,000 votes over PML-N’s Chaudhry. However, Chaudhry recorded a thumping win in the rural areas, securing 95,701 votes.

In Islamabad’s NA-48, PTI’s Javed Hashmi caused a serious upset by triumphing over PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel Khan, with the margin of victory being over 20,000 votes. Hashmi prevailed despite coming up against JI’s Mian Muhammad Aslam, hot favourite to win the seat, and a massive biradari vote bank. Aslam managed only 25,010 votes and came third, while PPP’s Faisal Sakhi Butt took fourth position with 9,177 votes.

Ultimately, voters expressed through their ballots that it is the people who hold the real power.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2013.

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