KHAR/ KALAYA/ BARA/ GHALLANAI/ SADDA/ FATA:
Despite fears of large-scale terrorist attacks, polling was conducted in good spirits across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), barring a few sporadic incidents. Security arrangements remained tight and a larger than expected turnout of female voters was also witnessed in the region.
Bajaur was the most peaceful agency as far as polls were concerned. No mishaps were reported and a large number of women turned up to cast their votes. Large contingents of levies and security forces officials were also deployed at sensitive polling stations to thwart any untoward incident. The polling process was conducted peacefully with not a single station being closed. Meanwhile, Badam Zari, the first female independent candidate from NA-44 received votes from both men and women of her tribe, giving hope to women in the agency for a better tomorrow.
Kurram Agency, haunted by a series of militant attacks in recent days, remained peaceful during the election with a large number of women participating. Minor issues were reported between candidates who blamed each other for rigging the polls in Parachinar, Luqman Khel and Nurak. Security arrangements were also tightened in the entire agency with security forces and Kurram levies personnel deployed in sensitive parts of the agency to foil any potential threats. In NA-38 Sadda, the headquarters of Lower Kurram, elections were postponed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) due to the ongoing military operation in the region’s troubled areas. The turnout was seen to be far greater than the 2008 polls.
The situation in Khyber Agency was unexpectedly peaceful during the polls, barring a few minor incidents. Supporters of the Awami National Party (ANP) opened fire in the limits of Sado Khel’s polling station after allegedly blaming supporters of an independent candidate for rigging the polls. However, no loss was reported and the presiding officer temporarily halted the polling process while security forces and political administration officials rushed to the site to tackle the situation. In another incident, supporters of former MNA Hameedullah Jan from NA-46 opened fire at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists in Shah Kas, Jamrud, injuring three people including Imran Afridi, PTI candidate Iqbal Afridi’s son.
Meanwhile, in Kala Khel, Bara, hundreds of tribesmen gathered around polling stations to vote. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Bara residing in Jalozai Camp, however, suffered from much mismanagement on part of the political administration.
In NA-36 the overall security situation remained positive. Those entering the agency were checked and no one was allowed to come near a polling station without an NIC. Mohmand Political Agent Dr Ambar Ali said a ban had been imposed on motorbikes for two days, adding women and seniors also cast their votes. No incidents of violence occurred except in Bahai Dag where a local peace committee member was killed when shots were fired in the air, prompting levies personnel to return fire. Ali said four people along with a levie official had been arrested in connection to the incident, adding polling did not stop despite the firing.
Similarly, in Orakzai, security forces remained in control of polling stations for NA-39. People used their right to vote despite a wave of fear in the region, and law enforcement agencies along with police kept patrolling the streets and ensured polling continues throughout the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2013.
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