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Aug 18th at Balochistan

The first phase of the local bodies elections were conducted on Aug 18th 2005 in fifty three districts of the country i.e. in 17 districts of Punjab, 10 in Sindh, 12 in NWFP and 14 in Balochistan. International and national observers were present at these different districts all over the country as was the media. While, on the morning after, much has been written about violence all over the country, individual-land would like to focus on Balochistan for this input.

As mentioned earlier, polling was conducted in 14 districts of Balochistan.This is what individual-land field reporters had to report:

Jafarabad, Dera Murad Jamali: In Dera Alayar Union Council a fight broke out between Mr. Aurangzeb Jamali and people of the Balani clan which is a sub tribe of Bugtis. The Balanis are tribally not very strong in Dera Murad Jamali and have a maximum of two hundred houses there. Media reports yesterday and even today have maintained that 3 people died but individual-land field contacts who were present on the ground there have refuted this confirming that 19 people were injured with no casualties. The fight broke out at 11.50 am as a result of which polling was stopped for three hours, resuming at 14.40 hours. Following the fight, Ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Zafarullah Khan Jamali reached the police station and demanded that an FIR be filed against the Balanis and that polling hours should be extended for three hours since it was suspended for that time. The DCO and DPO, in spite of repeated messages from the control room on their radios from the Ex-Prime Minister did not respond forcing Mr. Jamail to try to contact Mr. Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad and the Acting Chief Election Commissioner. Both were not available which infuriated Mr. Zafarullah Khan Jamali. He then contacted the IG Balochistan and also the Secretary Election Commission, Mr. Kunwar Dilshad who was in Karachi. It is tragic to note that the Ex- Prime Minister of Pakistan who in the 90s was also the Chief Minister of Balochistan and an elected member of National Assembly told both the IGP Balochistan and Mr. Dilshad `` I am giving the Government till 5pm to register an FIR and extend the polling by three hours. If no action is taken by 5pm, I will handle the matter the Baloch way" To make good his threat, he stationed 300 of his men outside the polling station where they were present until the announcement was done. The demand of Mr. Jamali to register an FIR and to extend the polling hours was very genuine but individual-land feels that such utter disregard for the rule of law by such an illustrious figure is cause for concern. It must be added that during the time Mr. Jamali was at the control room asking the operator to contact people he was abusive and in a rage.

Killa Saifullah: Two incidents of violence occurred at Killa Saifullah. The first was in the Raga Sultanzai of Muslim Bagh tehsil where rival groups clashed followed by firing where the Levis force came in forcing both the groups to fire back at the Levis. Polling stopped for three hours by which time a previously formed peace committee of citizens brokered an agreement between the two rival groups and polling resumed. However, it is important to mention here that the polling time was not extended here.

Another incident of violence in Killa Saifullah district occurred in the Sarasarwata area where MMA and Pakhtun Khua Milli Awami Party (P kMAP) clashed, polling stopped for 3 hours , matter was resolved by the administration after which polling resumed but no extra time was given.

Pishin District: Seven incidents of violence and irregularities took place in Pishin. The first was in Pishin City 1 where a candidate's symbol was not on the ballot paper. He of course objected, polling stopped for 1 hour during which a new symbol was allocated to the candidate and polling resumed. No extra time for polling was given.

In the Malik Yar Batozai area, 3 polling stations in Dat Khanzai area not a single woman cast any vote as a jirga had decided that women should not vote.

In Union Council Saranam fight broke out between PkMAP and MMA polling agents at 14.20 leaving 6 people injured for which polling stopped but resumed after 2 hours. No extra time was given.

In Tehsil Karbala at 4.15pm a fight broke out between MMA and PkMAP but they finished the fight about 400 meters away from the polling station so polling was not effected by it.

In Barshore tehsil at Union Council Baranzai on the ballot paper a candidate's symbol appeared as a turban when actually his symbol was a takhti (writing board).

In Hajian Shakarazai area a fight broke out between rival groups leaving two injured. Aerial firing was done by a candidate but the Levies force soon put a stop to it.

District Khuzdar: Two incidents occurred. A cracker burst in a High School where a polling station was situated; polling was stopped for 45 minutes but then resumed. No extra time was given to make up for the lost 45 minutes. In the same district, at Baghlaga area firing was done, stopping polling for 30 minutes, resumed with no extra time given.

District Ziarat: In this district women candidate Ms. Shahbidi of Union Council Cheena contesting on the peasant women seat did not have her symbol on the ballot paper. The polling was stopped for four hours to handle the matter. Polling time was extended by four hours after poling resumed.

Naseerabad: An interesting thing happened in the Ghot SalazAli Umrani area. Ghot SalazAli Umrani is on the border of Naseerabad and Jaffarabad district and so voters were voting in both the districts as their names were registered in both places. This was pointed out at 1400 hours to the administration who stopped the polling but the candidates refused to accept that the voters were voting in both districts and an argument broke out between the administration and the candidates. The matter was resolved by the Ex Prime Minister Mr. Zafarullah Khan Jamali after which polling resumed after a gap of 30 minutes. No extra time was given.

Mastung: In Mastung at Union Council Kareznod a candidate whose real election symbol was goat had the symbol of a boat on the ballot paper causing him great anguish. Polling was stopped for 10 minutes but resumed after the administration the Presiding Officer persuaded the candidate to accept boat as the symbol. No extra time was given.

Nushki:A fight broke out in Nushki city but it was controlled after 10 minutes.

Bolan: In Nowshera area of District Bolan a fight between Rind and Raisani tribes broke out at 12.40 but it was controlled by the administration in 20minutes. Polling was not stopped.

Individual-land field contacts did not report any incident of violence or irregularity in Sibi and Gwadar.

This was a snap shot of different districts of Balochistan on Aug 18th.



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