There are a lot of things happening in Pakistan at the moment. However, every one’s attention seems to be directed towards the highly anticipated elections of NA 55. Today, on 24th of February, 2010 people of Rawalpindi will finally cast their votes and decide not only the fate of the candidates but of themselves as well.
In the past few days Streets of Rawalpindi had been crammed by the fervor of the vigorous campaigning of some hopeful and many not-so-hopeful candidates representing several political parties. The 22 candidates belonging to PML, PTI, AML, JI, ANP etc and several independent candidates have tried their best to convince the people in these past few days. Now it is for people of Rawalpindi to decide who they want to chose as their next leader (for some time).
NA 55 is politically considered a crucial seat. There are 334,269 registered voters in NA-55, including 183,507 men and 150,762 women. 250 polling stations have been setup containing 597 polling booths. Therefore, we at V21 decided to conduct our own survey in order to get a picture of the entire situation. The survey was based on crude techniques for making general observations regarding electoral trends in NA 55. It included a sample of 25 (both male and female) and a self constructed questionnaire. We visited many areas covered under in NA 55 including Gawalmandi, Chota Bazaar Saddar, Chachhi Mohalla (residential area) and liaqat road.
The survey helped us get some valuable insights on the prevailing patterns of voting in the city.
Will people vote? The answer to this question is perhaps the most important. And so we asked.
Interestingly out of the few people (25) we asked, all except one told us, quite enthusiastically, that they were going to cast their votes. The reasons for doing it although were somewhat different for most of them. Yet this may still be a good sign considering the fact that voter turnout has always been a disappointment in Pakistan.
But why would they vote? The responses to this question were many and there were interesting differences among the male and female responses. Party affiliation continues to remain the leading deciding factor for most (40 percent of our sample with excessive majority of males). Female respondents were either reluctant to give their opinion or had simply not decided. It was a matter they had simply left for their husbands, brothers or fathers to worry about. Not much has changed still. Or has it?
Interestingly, we think a little bit has. People of Rawalpindi city do realize that a lot of problems are symptoms of lack of governance. Hence, if they want to see change it needs to come through electing the right person. Hence, there were people (although only 32 percent of our sample) who had decided to cast votes based on issues they want to get resolved.
“Mehangai” dominates clearly among the major issues that people have. Shortage and high prices of electricity and gas was second on the list while many (mostly females) thought cleanliness of these areas was also crucial. Water is another problem that public needs the politicians to resolve. This includes shortage of water, bad quality of water and the high prices of water tanks and filters. People also want the government to reduce taxes. Other problems that were highlighted by the respondents included unemployment, lack of affordable medical facilities, affordable education, and security.
Hence, in light of above questions we asked people who they were going to vote. Majority of the respondents (56 percent) answered Shakeel Awaan. This however, was due to his affiliation with Muslim League Nawaz. Interestingly, most of the people admitted voting for him only because he was representing Nawaz Sharif. 40 percent of the respondents were with Sheikh Rasheed. On the contrary Sheikh Rasheed’s votes were mostly due to his popularity in the area.
From the general responses of public the competition is mainly between Shakeel Awaan and Sheikh Rasheed. However, since this was just a general survey with very small (unrepresentative) sample we cannot say anything with conviction.
And it is a close contest.
NA-55 Elections: Results updates
According to the unofficial results from 250 polling stations of NA-55, Pakistan Muslim Leauge-N (PML-N) candidate Shakeel Awan is leading the race with 77309 votes. Awami Muslim League chairman Sheikh Rasheed is second in the race and he has secured 48222 votes. Dr Mohammad Kamal remained in the third place by securing 7,524 votes followed by PTI candidate Ejaz Khan Jazi, who could muster only 4,000 votes.