Pakistan gears up for Balochistan polls
Quetta – Security is on high alert as people in Pakistan’s troubled southwestern province of Balochistan prepare to vote in local body elections being held in the province for the first time in eight years on Saturday.
With separatist parties and groups calling for a wheel jam and shutter down strike in the province tomorrow and warning the people not to vote, the government has completed preparations to hold the elections in 32 districts of the province.
With 2,776 out of the total 5,305 polling stations in the province being declared highly sensitive and another 1,581 stations as sensitive the government has deputed around 55,700 security forces at these stations to ensure peace.
A government official told PTI that the security forces included 5,325 military soldiers, 19,322 policemen, 11,123 levies, 2,000 soldiers from the Balochistan constabulary and 16,000 frontier constabulary officials.
“We are taking every step to ensure the polling is held peacefully and there are no terrorism activities from militants or separatists,” the official said.
Interestingly they are 3.4 million registered voters in the province who can caste their votes at 4,168 stations for 18,000 contesting candidates.
The candidates belong to all the political parties plus are also standing independently.
Even before the polls are held out of the total of 7,190 seats 2,507 candidates have already been declared winners after seat adjustments.
The government has declared a public holiday for the polls and also imposed section 144 in the province and banned display of arms and pillion-riding.
Balochistan has been hit hard by separatist and sectarian violence.