Inked in hope: Electorate elated to vote in Gilgit
GILGIT: There was much enthusiasm in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Monday as thousands flocked to polling stations with one thought on their minds – exercising their right to vote in their elected representatives.
Elections for the G-B Legislative Assembly were held in the region after almost six years and the atmosphere was electric as polling got under way. Workers of different parties, including PML-N, PPP, PTI and Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM), transported their voters to polling stations
As polls were being held under army supervision, the atmosphere remained peaceful, providing no chances to security officials led by the Pakistan Army to intervene.
Housework on hold
“I had a single agenda on my mind. That was to cast my ballot. No cooking, no washing and no tea parties for today,” said Neelam Bibi, a housewife, in Gilgit.
“We are thankful to the forces for making such arrangements,” she told The Express Tribune after coming out of the polling station beaming with an ink-stained hand. “This was a wonderful atmosphere to vote in.”
Tariq Khan, the worker of a political party, was jubilant as he was able to ferry voters from their homes to polling stations in Gilgit, the capital of G-B. “People were so happy to take part in the elections. It was simply amazing,” said Khan.
It was a day of celebration for children as well as they flocked to polling stations along with their parents carrying banners of their favourite political parties.
With the exception of a few polling stations in Diamer district, women came out enthusiastically in large numbers to almost all polling stations of G-B to ink their ballots.
“It is my responsibility to vote,” said Ambreen, a housewife. “This is how we should elect our representatives.”
According to reports, the overall turnout in Ghizer, Hunza, Nagar, Astore and Skardu, the headquarters of Baltistan, was great as a number of people were still inside the stations when the time for casting ballots ended at 4pm. “As per rules, those inside the polling station can vote even after the time has elapsed,” said an official in Kashrote polling station.
However, in a strange decision by the State Bank of Pakistan, bankers were not given a holiday in the region, preventing them from taking part in the important elections. “We got orders from the state bank not to take a holiday so were deprived of the joy of voting,” a bank employee lamented.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2015.