As polling began at 8:00am on Saturday, a total of 2.8 million residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s merged tribal districts are expected to exercise their franchise to elect their representatives for 16 general seats of the provincial assembly in the first-ever KP assembly elections.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has set up 1,897 polling stations across the region, previously called Fata. Of them, 554 have been declared highly sensitive and 461 sensitive.
Polling is in full swing in all districts and according to reports from the area, voter turnout is high.
Earluer, people in many districts started lining up outside polling stations in the morning and reports from the districts suggest that the polling process started between 8:00am and 8:30am in all districts.
No untoward incident has been reported from any region as yet.
The ECP finalised arrangements for elections on Friday and handed over the relevant materials to the polling staff in their respective areas.
While claiming to have adopted foolproof security for the polls, the government has said 34,497 security personnel have been deployed across the region and they included personnel of the Pakistan Army, police, Frontier Corps, Levies and Khasadar Force.
There are 285 candidates for 16 general seats, including nominees of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party- Parliamentarians, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Qaumi Watan Party, and independents.
Two women candidates, including Naheed Afridi of the ANP and Malasa of the JI, are contesting election in PK- 106 Khyber-I and PK-109 Kurram-II respectively.
Of the 16 general seats, three are for Bajaur and Khyber tribal districts each and two for Mohmand, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan tribal districts each, while the former Frontier Regions of Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank jointly have one seat.
Five seats reserved for women and non-Muslims will be filled through proportional representation of seats won by a political party.
Eight candidates are in the running for four seats reserved for women, while there are three contestants for a seat reserved for non-Muslims.
A total of 2.80 million residents, including 1.67 million men and 1.13 million women, will exercise their right to vote.
Of the 1,897 polling stations, 482 are for men and 376 for women, while 1,039 are combined. A total of 5,653 polling booths have been established. They include 3,437 for men and 2,216 for women.
Also, the ECP has deputed 1,897 presiding officers, 5,653 assistant presiding officers and 5,653 polling officers.
While all polling stations are established in the respective constituencies, certain stations of PK-110 Orakzai and PK-112 North Waziristan-II have been set up in the adjoining settled districts for internally displaced persons.
Twenty-three polling stations have been established in Kohat for Mamuzai tribe, 23 in Hangu for Alikhel and Mulakhel tribes of Orakzai Agency, and 13 in Bannu for IDPs of PK-112 North Waziristan.
The ECP has already notified the deployment of the personnel of armed forces and civil armed forces outside every polling station and both outside and inside the highly sensitive polling stations from July 18th to July 21 for helping it conduct elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.
It has also assigned magisterial powers to the presiding officers and designated officer in charge of armed forces and civil armed forces for entire duration of their deployment in respect of offences under Elections Act’s Section 169 (personation) and Section 171 (capturing of polling station or polling booth).