November 25, 2022

No major political party objected to results of local bodies in Balochistan: ECP

File photo. Arif Ali—AFP

No major political party in Pakistan has expressed any objection to the unofficial results of Balochistan’s local elections, which are a big success of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Secretary Umar Hameed said on Tuesday.

“Local elections have been held in 32 of Balochistan’s 34 districts,” he said in a statement. “The conduct of free, fair, impartial, peaceful, transparent and successful local polls indicates that the people of Baluchistan want peace and democracy,” he said, adding that the polls took place after almost 9 years. and had only been possible through the hard work of the ECP.

“The people of Balochistan have made history by rejecting threats from anti-state and anti-social elements in large numbers to exercise their right to vote,” he said. “The ECP is grateful to the people of Balochistan, the law enforcement agencies, the media and all the candidates for the smooth running of these elections,” he wrote, adding that the mandate of the previous local government of Balochistan had expired in January 2019.

Emphasizing that the ECP had taken all necessary measures, both before and after the expiry of the local government’s mandate, to guarantee the holding of the elections and had also been supported by the judiciary in this endeavor, he said that this was only possible through collective efforts. Summarizing the local body polls, Hameed said, “Polling was held on May 22, 2022 in 32 districts of Balochistan. There were 5,226 polling stations, of which 576 were reserved for men; 562 women only; 4,088 generals; and 149 improvised polling stations. He said 1,974 polling stations had been declared “sensitive”, 2,034 “very sensitive” and 1,218 “normal”, with adequate security arrangements depending on the level of threat. “The Chief Election Commissioner, SIkandar Sultan Raja, personally monitored the electoral process,” he added.

Hameed regretted that eight polling stations had to be closed during the voting process because voting materials were stolen; the ballot boxes were smashed; ballots were stolen; and election staff were harassed. “Serious advice has been taken on these incidents,” he said, adding that legal action would be taken against all culprits.

According to unofficial results of over 1,800 seats, independent candidates lead with 1,890 seats, with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) coming in second with 480. In third and fourth place are the Balochistan Awami Party and the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami. Party with 480 and 310 seats, respectively. The ranking of the remaining parties is as follows: National Party 151 seats; BNP-Mengal 102 seats; Pakistan People’s Party 135 seats; BNP-Awami 68 seats; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf 71 seats; Awami National Party 44 seats; Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) 20 seats; Jamhoori Watan Party 19 seats; and the 16-seat Jamaat-e-Islami.

Although largely peaceful, sporadic instances of unrest were reported in some areas where candidates and election officials clashed. There were no local polls in two districts – Quetta and Lasbela – due to a High Court order involving objections to the new demarcation.