All’s well that ends well

LAHORE: Apart from a few scuffles between rival political groups, voters, and policemen, polling concluded peacefully in the provincial capital on Wednesday.

In order to maintain security as well as law and order, Lahore police deployed 35,000 officials and 16,000 volunteers on Election Day. Around 3,850 polling stations were set up in the city and at least 700 of them were declared sensitive.

According to the plan, four police officials and as many volunteers, along with the officials of Pakistan Army, were deployed for the security of each Category A polling station which were the most sensitive.

Police also cordoned off the surroundings of polling stations as per the ECP Code of Conduct by using barricades, barbed wires, and tents.

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They also used closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed by the Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA) in different parts of the provincial capital for monitoring and surveillance. Teams of the Police Response Unit (PRU) and Dolphin Squad were on patrol throughout the city.

The PRU was deployed for patrolling around 10 polling stations and the Dolphin Squad near five of them. Voters were allowed entry after being checked at three points.

Meanwhile, senior police officers, including DIG Operations Shahzad Akbar, DIG Investigations Syed Khurram Ali, Chief Traffic Police Officer Liaquat Ali Malik and SSP Operations Asad Sarfaraz Khan remained on patrol to monitor security arrangements.

As far as traffic management on Elections Day was concerned, over 3,000 traffic wardens were deployed to maintain traffic flow. The wardens set diversions from roads which had been closed down near polling stations.

The Anti-Riot Police Force remained on standby to respond in any case of emergency. CCPO Lahore BA Nasir said they used all available resources to ensure the polls peacefully.

Some scuffles in city

Polls concluded peacefully and only a couple of scuffles were reported in Lahore. In the Kahna area of NA-132, policemen thrashed a voter who had come to cast his vote. In a video, the victim was entering the gate of the polling station when the cops started beating him. The reason for the episode had yet to be established till the filing of this report.

In another incident, a minor skirmish was also reported in NA-123’s Shahdara area. Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) fought over convincing a voter to vote for them.

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However, the situation was brought under control through the intervention of law enforcement agencies. Similarly, another incident was reported in NFC society where PML-N and PTI supporters fought over a petty issue.

Situation in other cities

In Sargodha, the polling process went off smoothly for five National and 10 provincial assembly seats. The election Code of Conduct was followed and the district administration made strict security arrangements to maintain peace.

In Sialkot, para-military troops patrolled main roads in sensitive areas, including Daska, Sambrial, and Pasrur to ensure peaceful, free and fair polls. Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Tahir Wattu, senior officials of police, ECP and law enforcment agencies visited several polling stations in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils.

Similarly, in Multan, polling concluded off peacefully under tight security arrangements. Deputy Commissioner Mudassir Riaz Malik said Pakistan Army officers and jawans were deployed at all sensitive polling stations. The security arrangements remained intact even after the announcement of results.

In Dera Ghazi Khan, polling continued peacefully under tight security arrangements. The polling process went peaceful and smooth for all four National and eight Punjab Assembly seats in the district.

In Faisalabad, the polling process at all polling stations across the district remained peaceful. According to police, foolproof security arrangements were made for Election Day. More than 26,000 security personnel were deployed at all polling stations.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2018.

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