Elections in Lahore, Pakistan
The Elections Day in Lahore was relatively calm, as compared to previous elections, though it was not expected to be after the murder of one of the candidates to provincial assembly of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz last night. As I write this post, I can listen to many analysts on the news channels expressing their surprise over the comparative smoothness with which the elections proceeded in the district.
I spent most of my day, after casting my vote for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), with the Election Monitors of the Students Action Committee (SAC) Lahore and Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP). I traveled around Thoker Niaz Beg area visiting several polling booths in order to look for any illegal activities.
The most pervasive complaint, while the detailed report of SAC is pending, was the exclusion of opposition party voters from the voting lists. According to the voters, who exercised their right to vote in the last elections, they could not find their names and the names of their family members in the voting lists, though it was present a few days ago. Many alleged that the voting lists might be changed overnight before the elections. There were also complaints about lack of polling booths and polling staff particularly in the opposition constituencies. Additionally, there were also some reports regarding intimidation of the polling staff by the local authorities.
In the pre-poll phase, there was rampant information of money being distributed by PML-Q and the development works being carried out in the late hours.
As the news is coming in, it appears that the King’s Party, PML-Q, is going down swiftly. Many PML-Q stalwarts – Moonis Elahi (who spent so much money in elections that his face seemed to be everywhere), Shujat Hussain, and Sheikh Rashid – have reportedly lost (the latter two are contesting from more than one constituencies, so whether they will make it to the legislature or not is still unconfirmed).
Here also some short-messages that I received throughout the day:
SAC mock referendum results:
Against Musharraf: 782
For Musharraf: 24
From Geo: Majority polling stations have not received their allotted number of ballot papers and boxes.
Mianwali; NA-72: Pervez Elahi’s relative Humair Hayat Rokri’s (candidate for PML-Q) supporters giving money to female voters outside polling stations.
Narowal; NA-117: Ransacked polling stations go up to 25. Armed gangs of criminals carried out the operation on the behest of PML-Q and took away boxes.