ABBOTABAD: Local government candidates are making last ditch efforts to woo voters with fascinating manifestos, promises and when all else fails, cold hard cash. And on the day of the polls, the locals will cast their ballots under the shadow of the military in some five districts.
A total of 2.385 million voters from five districts of Hazara will elect their future local representatives from over 15,000 candidates. The natural resource rich Hazara Division has six districts, Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Torghar and Kohistan. The latter was bifurcated into as lower and upper Kohistan which residents of Palas and surrounding areas challenged before the Peshawar High Court. As a result, the election commission had to defer elections there till the court’s decision.
Data gathered from returning officers suggest there are 2,385,298 registered voters in Hazara with exception of Kohistan. In total 15,667 contestants are going to try their luck for different seats.
Around 1,044 candidates are in the running for 191 district council seats, while 1,161 are contesting for 11 tehsil council seats of the five districts.
For the 713 neighbourhood and village councils, there are 1,186 contestants for women seats, while 2,814 are in the fray for peasant or workers’ seats. At the same time, 2,586 are running for youth seats and 6,876 candidates for general councillor berths at the village or neighbourhood level. Some of the candidates remain unopposed, while almost all reserved minority seats remained uncontested in Hazara.
Clash of clans
As old family feuds and intolerance are characteristics of politics in Hazara, the chances of clashes between rival groups cannot be ruled out and the administration has taken all precautionary measures.
Of 616 polling stations in Abbottabad, 135 are most sensitive and 250 sensitive. In Haripur, of the 510 polling stations, 61 are most sensitive and 216 are sensitive. In Mansehra district, 166 polling stations were declared as most sensitive and 277 sensitive from a total of 778. In Battagram, 99 polling stations are sensitive and 60 most sensitive out of 236. Finally, 33 polling stations of Torghar are most sensitive and 20 sensitive out of 93 polling stations.
According to the DROs of these districts, military troops would patrol Torghar, Battagram, Mansehra, Abbottabad and Haripur. These troops would assist the civil administration as a quick response force for elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2015.
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