n Vote count in progress

KARACHI   -   Counting of votes for the Local Governments first phase held in 14 districts of Sindh was in progress amid incidents of sporadic armed clashes between party workers leaving two persons dead and several others injured.

The polling began at 8am and continued until 5pm without any pause. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also announced extending the voting time in areas where the polling was stopped due to some reason.

The 14 districts of Sindh include Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, and Tharparkar. The elections in the rest of the districts of Sindh will be held on July 24.

At least 21,298 candidates are in the field against 6,277 seats of 101 town committees, 23 municipal committees, 14 district councils, four municipal corporations, eleven town municipal corporations and 887 union councils and union committees.

Two persons were killed while several others injured during the sporadic clashes between rival groups during polling process.

A man was shot dead and three were injured during a clash between JUI and PPP workers in Sukkur. The two parties were clashing over election proceedings at a polling station in Rohri. Police were called to diffuse tension as the faceoff between PPP and PTI workers continues at Saleh Pat polling station in Sukkur.

According to officials, polling was stopped in Ward 1 while PTI candidate protested the illegal appointment of a male officer in the female booth of Ward 4. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed elections in some areas including Ghotki District’s Mirpur Mathelo after wrong names of candidates were printed on ballot papers.

The security has been tightened with deployment of 2,438 policemen, 11 companies of the Pak Army on standby and 1,509 Rangers were also deployed. Meanwhile, the voter counts are going down in Rohri, which has 12 wards, due to very hot weather. The temperature is 47°C and it feels like 51°C.

Some unknown assailants attacked three polling stations in Nawabshah and made the polling staff hostage over there. After making the election staff hostage, the unknown attackers made off with ballot papers, ballot boxes, stamps and other election material. The balloting could not be started as yet in Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto, Nawaz Ali and Social Security polling stations in Union 8 in Nawabshah.

On the other hand, the PTI activists alleged that the attack was launched because the ECP rejected the form of PPP chairman. The activists of Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLP) have disrupted polling in UC 6 Ward No 1, Nadir Shah Dispensary in Nawabshah while raising objection on allotting wrong election symbol during the polls.

They objected to the allotment of another election symbol i.e. Queen to the TLP Chairman and vice chairmanship contenders other than TLP’s official election symbol of ‘Crane’. After halting election process, the TLP supporters raised slogans against the ECP for allotting wrong symbol.

According to reports, a clash broke out between the activists of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam (JUI) during the polling in Ward No 10 of Kandkot. The supporters of both the parties beat their opponents with clubs. Several people got injured during the fight and the election staff halted the balloting.

Meanwhile, some armed people kidnapped the polling staff from polling station Tori in UC Daddr in Kandkot. The armed men opened fire and snatched election staff including presiding officer. They also took away ballot boxes with them.

In another incident, people in village Rasool Bakhsh in Tangwai’s broke open the gate of polling station No 8 and entered the booth. Police tried to stop them but they failed. The polling process was halted in polling station of Farid Mehr in Sukkur following a scuffle between two rival groups.

An activist of the JUI was injured in the fight and was shifted to a local hospital. The JUI leader Muhammad Saleh accused the SHO of the area of violence, adding that people who came from outside, they attacked our workers.

The Election Commission stopped polling at two polling stations in Qambar Shahdadkot following reports of mismanagement and theft of election material. The balloting was halted in Naseerabad’s UC Damrah 46 and City Ward 12 when the ECP received reports of theft of voters’ lists and wrong election symbol allotment to the candidates, respectively. The residents of UC Damrah 46 protested against the theft of voters’ lists. A large number of police contingent reached the polling stations to avert any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, son of former Chief Minister Sindh and SAPM Arbab Ghulam Rahim was injured after being attacked allegedly by PPP activists in Tharparkar during local government elections. Arbab Inayatullah was attacked at the Bacho Bhoot polling station in Kaloi area of Mithi with GDA leaders blaming the PPP for being behind the incident.