Saturday, 20 July 2013

End of battle at NA 250

By: Kanwal Abidi

A clash of titans was predicted in this NA 250 - an important constituency for all political parties. After many protests and demonstrations, ECP declared re-polling at 43 pooling stations of NA 250, PS 112 and PS113. 
Already a battleground for political parties, at the end it turned out to be a one sided affair at the re polling. A total of 180 polling stations were enlisted in this constituency. Law enforcement agencies took charge a day before on 18th May 2013 and Sindh police officials were made to stay over night at all the premises of 43 polling stations. Army and Rangers took on to roads to ensure law and order around the vicinity.

Early morning the ECP workers started coming in at 6.30 am - well before the polling time at 8.00 pm. The voters were seen to come to their respective polling stations with great fervor and interest. Small children were accompanying their parents. The parents quoted that “if their children will see the adults voting, then they will be inspired to vote for democracy when they grow up!” Few children volunteering at PTI camps were seen giving juice packs to the children accompanying their parents. A 12 year old was seeing being sarcastic as he shared his view with another child of same age “why is re-polling being done at 43 stations only? And if rigging did happen then shouldn’t whole Pakistan be having re-elections and where was army that day? – He left a question for all of us.

The largest polling booth was seen at DA Degree College for Women. Here 5 polling stations were in one college. (140 to 144) and the number of registered voters here was 10536 and a 35% turnout was witnessed. People started coming in late as they said they wanted to ensure that it is safe to come out of their houses. By and large, everyone quoted this re-polling process peaceful. But said that it is like a one sided game where the batting is been done on home pitch. However, at polling station, DHA Model School # 148, some women voters were seen complaining about the electoral process- primarily they could not find their names on the voters list. At 5.00 pm sharp, gates were closed and the counting began with army seen inside at every polling booth – doing their duty as if guarding the border of Pakistan. An army official quoted that on 11th May 2013, they were not allowed to step inside – but on 19th may 2013 they were empowered more than their own expectations. Counting was a smooth process and all the ECP officials were seen doing their duties efficiently.

Electronic media was seen with DSNGs’ and reporters all eagerly waiting after 5.00pm to break the news to the public. Law enforcement agencies were at peace and seen smiling around but wore a tired look as most of them were giving 24 hour duty. The buzz around the polling stations by PTI workers and polling agents started giving them fruits of their patience by a victory sign. Around 7.00 p.m , when the counting was done and the ECP female staff came out of polling station # 144, I was busy writing notes, when I felt a hand on my shoulder, I was asked which channel, I belonged? I politely, replied – addressing as her “Respected Madam, I have a pen and paper”- she turned off in search of cameramen. She returned to me and said that she is looking for some one to break the news that their daily wage of Rs 1300 as promised by the ECP to give to the re-polling staff was not full filled. A female was quoted saying “every rupee we earn is important to us – so Rs 1300 is a big amount for them!” They came to their duties at 6.30 am and were promised to be given money in cash after the counting finished. But they returned to home in anger as they were asked to report to city court on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 to collect their payment in lieu of their re-polling duties. Seeing this commotion, a few police officials confided that on 11th may 2013 their one day wage of a constable (Rs 400) and ASI, Head Constable (Rs 550) was cut by the Sindh Police that they would be given food to eat that day, even on 19th may 2013 their one day wage was cut. A police official quoted that “whole day we took tea and biscuits – as they were not even allowed to go out and fetch food”.  

The elected people from NA 250 and PS 113 and PS 112, please take these points to start your battle to end corruption in 90 days. Now time has come that what you claimed for, you need to deliver it too.  A 90 day corruption free plan – can it un-earth deep rooted problems in our establishment and system? A change is now in air where citizens have become street smart and will not keep silent. The battle ground of NA 250 has ended in electioneering but the next battle to keep up to people’s expectation for a “real change”- now starts!