Unfortunately, election day so far has been fraught with tension. There have been a total of about fifteen significant acts of violence at or around polling stations as people venture out of their homes to cast their votes.
Voter turnout has been encouraging: what’s more, famous celebrities and prominent politicians are posting pictures of themselves after having voted in order to push people to get out and do the same.
However, the voting spirit was dampened by the following incidents of violence that have taken place throughout the day:
1) Blast In Quetta
The blast in Quetta has been the most upsetting incident yet, taking the lives of about 30 people and injuring 35 others. Reportedly, the perpetrator blew himself up outside a polling station where many had gathered to vote on account of not being allowed to enter the polling station by the police. Responsibility for this atrocity has been claimed apparently by the Islamic State.
2) PTI Worker Killed in Swabi, KP
A skirmish took place in the Swabi district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early this morning between Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) workers. It escalated to the point that the PTI worker involved was shot dead while two others involved sustained injuries. The incident is being condemned strongly: however, it is important not be too hasty about assigning blame.
3) Clashes in Mardan and Kohistan
This positive development in KP has been coupled with outbreaks of violence. In Mardan, there was a clash between PTI and ANP workers once again, resulting in some injuries. Voting had to be suspended in Kohistan as a fight broke out between supporters of rival independent candidates.
4) Violence in South Punjab
Khanewal and Rajanpur districts both saw clashes between PTI and PML-N workers. In Khanewal, a man was shot dead, while police had to be urgently deployed to prevent violence in Rajanpur as workers went head to head. As a result of the disruption, PML-N has requested an extension to polling time so everyone may get a chance to vote despite the setbacks.
5) Several Injured in Lahore, Shahdara, Gujranwala and Faisalabad
These have mostly been clashes between PTI and PML-N workers. How these are being allowed to happen is not clear exactly, considering the fact that 371,388 security personnel have been deployed throughout the country to prevent such incidents precisely. However, something that is probably making implementation of security difficult is the fact that these are mostly isolated incidents involving a few individuals fighting with their firearms. There is no easily identifiable mob instigating the chaos.
6) Sindh Sees its Fair Share Of Violence
The dispute between PPP and GDA reportedly started when a woman was not allowed to vote due to technical reasons. The injured had to be swiftly transported to hospitals – a GDA who was said to be critically injured was taken to a hospital in Hyderabad.
Voting had to be suspended for some time in these areas. This is extremely unfair for all those still waiting to vote.
7) Voting Suspended in Jafarabad, Balochistan
In the wake of the Quetta blast and then these incidents, some people are demanding to know why Balochistan seems to be hit the hardest – and why security hasn’t been able to curb the violence.
Politician Jibran Nasir also asked the question of where security personnel are exactly while the election process is being disrupted:
Today has been a tumultuous affair for all involved. Despite all our fervent hopes otherwise, lives have once again been lost. Once these elections are over, we all need to ask some important questions as to why our country is not able to conduct its democratic processes in a fair, safe, civilized manner. As to the ‘enemies of Pakistan’ carrying out terrorist attacks – we will not be deterred. Great job voters!