PESHAWAR: As Pakistan votes for the general elections on Wednesday, the state has also prepared itself to deal with casualties if the situation turns violent during the polling. Owing to the multiple incidents of violence in the run up to the elections, Peshawar’s deputy commissioner Imran Hamid Sheikh announced that he has arranged 1,000 kafans (burial shroud) for the polling day.
"We hope we will have a peaceful voting process but we’re ready to deal with an emergency situation,” Sheikh was quoted by The Express Tribune. He also said that they have imposed a ban on aerial firing, black-tinted glasses and the unregistered entry of vehicles in Peshawar.
Taking note of Sheikh's statement, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Dost Muhammad Khan on Tuesday has issued a show cause notice to him. Khan, in a cabinet meeting, suggested disciplinary action against the deputy commissioner for issuing irresponsible statements to incite fear among voters, The Express Tribune reported.
As feared, there have been incidents of violence on the polling day in which at least 34 people have been killed and 36 others have been injured. In Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, a suicide blast targeting a police van killed at least 31 people, including five policemen and two minors outside the polling station, and nearly 30 other were injured in a blast near Quetta's Eastern Bypass
A suicide bomber wanted to enter the polling station near Quetta's Eastern Bypass but failed due to heavy presence of the Frontier Corps and the Police in and outside the polling station. He than went and detonated close to a police van near the station.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's Swabi district, supporters of two rival parties exchanged fire outside a polling station, killing a worker of former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and injuring two others.
The PTI worker was killed as party activists clashed with Awami National Party (ANP) workers outside a polling station for NA- 19 (Swabi II) and PK-47 (Swabi V) in Nawan Kali area.
Another person was killed in firing outside a Mirpurkhas polling station in NA-219 Dighri area, the report said.
In a separate incident, four people were injured in a cracker blast outside a political camp in Larkana.
The voting in Pakistan started at 8 am local time on more than 85,000 polling stations. The counting of votes will be done on the spot soon after the conclusion of the polling process at 6 PM and results will be announced within 24 hours. More than 30 political parties have fielded their candidates for the elections.
Pakistanis are voting to choose a new government in the second democratic transition of power in the nation's 70-year history amid accusations of manipulation by the powerful army and concerns over the participation of Islamic hardliners in large numbers.
The Pakistan Army has stationed over 3,70,000 personnel across the country to ensure security for the election, bolstered by an additional 450,000 police.