Independents lead Balochistan LG polls

The independent candidates are leading in the local government (LG) elections held on Sunday in 32 districts of Balochistan after a period of nine years.

As per the unofficial and initial results, independent candidates have won 1,058 seats followed by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) with 98 seats and the ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) bagged 71 seats. Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) won 39 seats, National Party (NP) secured 26 seats, Balochistan National Party (Mengal) bagged 18 seats while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged 10 and six seats, respectively.

The polling, which started at 8am, continued till 5pm without any interruption with the process largely being smooth and peaceful. However, one person was killed during an exchange of fire between two rival groups in the Noshki district. Over three dozen people sustained injuries in sporadic clashes between rival groups in various parts of the province. In the Naseerabad district, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Mir Sadiq Umrani accused the administration of supporting the BAP candidates. “Our 30 workers were subjected to torture by the BAP minister,” Umrani claimed.

Over 17,000 candidates were contesting the local bodies’ elections across the province. “Throughout the province, one person was killed,” Additional Chief Secretary Home Hashim Ghilzai said. Stringent security measures were in place in all 32 districts of Balochistan to maintain law and order. The provincial government had declared over 2,000 polling stations sensitive. Besides levies and police, the authorities had also deployed Frontier Corps to prevent any untoward incident.

The candidates were contesting for 4,456 seats of councilors, and as many as 1,584 councilors were elected unopposed. Earlier, while addressing a press conference in Quetta, Balochistan government spokesperson Farah Azeem Shah said that local body elections are being held in Balochistan for the first time since 2013. She also stated that the delimitation matter of Quetta and Lasbela was being resolved. It may be mentioned here that except for Quetta and Lasbella, and some areas of Zhob and Pishin, LG elections are being held across the province.

The ECP had delayed the elections in the above-mentioned areas because of flaws in the delimitations and delays in the formation of wards for councilors.