The election campaign for cantonment boards’ polls ended on Friday midnight, candidates contesting elections in Rawalpindi’s two cantonments made frantic efforts to reach out to a maximum number of voters to cast ballots in their favour.
The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) and Chaklala Cantonment Board (CCB) have 10 seats each, however, the election will be held on 19 seats as polling has been postponed in one ward after the death of the only female candidate.
In these two cantonments, a total of 187 candidates are in the fray and of them, 110 are contesting on nine seats of RCB and 77 candidates on 10 seats of the CCB. Polling in 219 wards in 42 cantonment boards across the country will be held on September 12 from 8 am to 5 pm.
The election commission has made it clear no campaigning or corner meetings will be allowed after the electioneering deadline is over and action would be taken against violators.
Political parties will be allowed to set up camps outside polling stations to facilitate the candidates. Ballot boxes and other related will be handed over to returning officers and polling officers on Saturday (today) under the security of police and Rangers.
All polling officers have been directed to ensure their presence at the polling stations on Saturday night. All returning officers, assistant returning officers and staff have been directed to report to the polling stations today.
There are a total of 42 cantonment boards and 219 wards across the country. Karachi division has a maximum of 42 wards, Rawalpindi district has 37 wards and Lahore district has 20 wards. All other cantonment boards have 2 to 14 wards.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has nominated the highest number of 205 candidates across the country followed by 160 candidates by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and 155 candidates by the Pakistan People’s Party, while 499 independent candidates are also contesting.
Election officials said that all arrangements have been made for polling. They said that the Station House Officer of his respective jurisdiction will be in charge of the polling station. Closed-circuit cameras have also been installed at all sensitive polling stations.
Meanwhile, on the last day of the cantonment boards’ election on Friday, three major political parties and religious organisations held large corner meetings and rallies in favour of their candidates in Rawalpindi.
Former prime ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Raja Pervez Ashraf also campaigned for their respective party candidates. Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq also campaigned for party candidates in Rawalpindi.
District and city officials of the three major political parties, as well as current and former elected representatives also pushed hard seeking votes for their candidates.
The PPP and the PML-N also alleged that the ruling PTI has been holding rallies in cantonment areas while using state machinery.
Read more ECP set to hold cantonment polls
PTI provincial parliamentary secretary Chaudhry Adnan and PTI district president Shehryar Riaz have said that elections will be completely transparent. They said that the PTI has a clear lead in all five cantonment boards of the region including in Rawalpindi. They dismissed the allegations of pre-poll rigging while calling the foul cry of the opposition as an admission of defeat.
PPP cantonment president Malik Zaheer Arshad Advocate and Rawalpindi district secretary Muhammad Shahid said that the government was planning to rig the cantonment elections while using state machinery while also making false promises with regards to development schemes.
PML-N Rawalpindi president Sardar Muhammad Naseem Khan and Secretary-General Haji Pervez said that despite pre-poll rigging, people will still vote for Nawaz Sharif’s candidates on Sunday and send the illegitimate PTI government packing.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s District Amir Arif Shirazi and Secretary Malik Azam said that JI has always pursued a policy of nobility. They expressed hope that the politics of nobility and public service will be successful in both the cantonment boards.
Moreover, independent candidates Zafar Iqbal, Raja Jehandad and Chaudhry Shehzad have said that they will defeat the rival candidates of all political parties in the cantonment board elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2021.