Zee Media Bureau
Karachi: “It is 6 PM and thousands have voted across Pakistan but at NA-250 (Phase IV), people are still standing in queue since morning to vote.”
Even with barely minutes for stipulated polling time (6pm PST) was about to end, in a polling station in DHA Phase IV Karachi (NA-250) was yet to start.
"It's 5:30 pm. I was supposed to be at work by now with my colleagues, anticipating the result to what was being termed as a 'historic' election.
"Instead I have now returned home after standing for 10 hours in line without being able to vote. It wasn't as if the line up was too long (which it was, but I was number four in line), it was just that polling hadn't started in our station yet," wrote an exasperated Shyema Sajjad, Deputy Editor with Dawn on the daily's website.
She said contradictory statements kept coming in all day from the staff inside.
"First they said there were no ballot boxes present. The crowd was astonished they thought this would be the biggest setback no one had any idea at that time that from a required staff of 65 ECP officials, only 12 were present.
"That number eventually diminished to nine when some of them managed to sneak out from the gate and disappeared, without looking back," she wrote.
"...It's almost 6:00 pm now, my family member still in line tells me there is still no sign of voting starting yet".
The Election Commission of Pakistan in a statement said its chief has raised his concerns with the Corps Commander, Karachi and DG Rangers that polling staff in many constituencies in Karachi have been threatened, which has prevented them from performing election duties.
"In other instances, attempts have been made to hijack the vehicles transporting voting material from the Returning Officers to the polling stations. This has caused serious delays in polling, especially in NA-250," it said.
Poll panel admits failure
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) admitted Saturday that it failed to hold free and fair polls in the country's largest city of Karachi.
The ECP statement followed a series of rigging allegations levelled by many political parties against each other in the port city, Dawn News reported.
Balloting in the city were also marred by two blasts and other incidents of violence at polling stations.
Even as voting time across the country was extended by an hour, the ECP gave three more hours for balloting at seven Karachi constituencies.
At least 10 people were killed and 50 others injured in a huge explosion that tore through a group of voters waiting near a polling station in Quaidabad area.
The Mohajir Qaumi Movement, Sunni Ittehad Council and Jamaat-e-Islami boycotted the polls in Karachi.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said there was rigging in several areas of Karachi and that the MQM was involved in it, Radio Pakistan reported.
With Agency Inputs