The first phase of the Balochistan local council polls attracted a huge public enthusiasm and massive participation, amid sporadic incidents of violence in some parts of the province. The public elected their representatives for municipal corporations, municipal committees and union councils in droves. The election for grassroots level representatives, which are being held after nine years in the province, will not only improve the basic infrastructure with the active public participation, it will help the people to engage with the government at a time when in some parts of the province, uptick in violence is being witnessed. As results have now been completed, we see that independent candidates have taken the lion’s share of the seats, which underscore the need to strengthen political parties in the province. Elections for 4,456 constituencies on Sunday in 32 districts of the province have been completed, and according to unofficial results of 3,555 seats collected so far, independent candidates won 1,882 seats, followed by JUI-F’s 469, BAP 303 and Balochistan National Party 303 seats. The other parties, which show meaningful presence are: BNP-Mengal 202, National Party 145, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party 135, Pakistan Peoples Party 130, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf 71, BNP-Awami 68, Gwadar Rights Movement 52, Awami Party 43, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz 20, Jamhoori Watan Party 19 and Jamaat-e-Islami 16.
The data show that JUI-F has emerged as the biggest political party of the province, while the Gwadar Rights Movement is only representative of the port city of Gwadar. The port city, which is the point zero of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has its local party, which understands the local problems. This is a welcome beginning. The other welcome aspect of the election is that despite terror threats, the election day remained peaceful barring a few incidents of terrorism in which terrorists used grenades and rocket attacks, while at some places, rival political groups clashed with each other. These attacks should not be taken lightly, as terrorists have shown their presence in some districts. Similarly, the trend of electing independent candidates is not a healthy democratic sign.
Political parties should reach out to the people and disseminate their plans, manifesto among the public. Balochistan is tribal in nature, and people tend to stand by their tribes, instead of political parties. The tribal leaders have made their own parties, and keep changing their goal posts in every election. That is why till date no party has come here which can claim to be the largest party in the province on a permanent basis. In the past, even though the nationalist parties formed the government alone, they could not complete their terms, This is one of the major reasons for the backwardness of Balochistan. It is expected that under the changing circumstances, there will be no such obstacle in resolving public issues at the grassroots level after the local body elections.