I left the NUST campus just after sunset for Harappa situated in Sahiwal district where my vote is registered. Harappa, which was the center of human civilization about 2,000 years BC is our ancestral village. I reached there in the early hours of local body election day to cast my vote. All along the Motorway from Islamabad up to Lahore and along the Multan road up till Harappa, I could see the election activities through the window of my bus. Although election campaign had stopped the day before, but election posters and other symbols were prominent.
We were standing outside our polling station fifteen minutes before the scheduled polling time which was fixed at 07:30 am. I was in company of my two brothers and a cousin from Lahore. My younger brother who is a student of Lahore School of Economics had to attend a class at 12 pm and my cousin, who is an architect, had an important appointment in his office. So they were both eager to cast their vote as a national duty, like responsible citizens, without missing their appointments in Lahore.
Our rush to the polling station and our eagerness to cast our vote went in vain as the polling staff and the related election material was not present at the polling station. The polling process started at almost quarter past eight
We were observing the activities in the polling station very closely. As soon as the polling started, the lack of training and ineffectiveness of polling staff was evident from the fact that wrong NIC numbers were entered on three ballot papers. The public being unaware of the fact, cast their vote on those same damaged ballot papers.
Mobile phones were being used frequently by the voters even though almost everyone had gone through the charts displayed at prominent places inside the polling station by the Election Commission, which clearly stated that mobile phones should be kept silent and not used within the premises of the polling station.
Despite the delayed start of the polling process, all the law enforcement agencies including the police, Muhafiz Squad were on duty before time and were assisting the common with directions and polling process. After casting my vote, I went to a nearby polling station and observed that a senior police officer was taking rounds of the area to get reports from the officers on duty. He was motivating them to serve the public as much as possible.
My elder brother forgot his original CNIC in Karachi but he had a colored photocopy of it. He was not allowed to cast his vote. Although he showed his official identity card but the election staff rightfully declined his request and apologized for not allowing him to cast his vote and his travel to Harappa from Karachi went in vain.
The interest of the general public, whether villagers or from urban areas, shows that the people want to have local bodies on a permanent basis. The government should make every possible effort to promote and protect interests of people in these local bodies as they think that they can have their problems solved at the grass root level.