Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Former prime minister Imran Khan and other incarcerated political figures cast their votes through postal ballots from Adiala Jail Rawalpindi and other prisons.
Other political leaders who managed to vote by postal ballots included former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry.
However, Imran’s wife, Bushra Bibi, was unable to participate in the voting as she was convicted and arrested after the completion of the postal voting process.
Overall, fewer than 100 prisoners of Adiala Jail were able to vote, constituting only about one per cent of the jail’s 7,000 inmates.
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Officials said the jail administration allowed only those inmates to cast their votes who had valid computerised national identity cards (CNICs), and the reason for a low turnout was that an overwhelming majority of the prisoners did not have the original CNIC.
“There are criminals, dacoits, thieves, convicts in the heinous crimes and under-trial prisoners (UTPs) detained in the jail,” a senior official said.
He said most criminals didn’t carry the CNIC to avoid their identity, while the identity cards of the UTPs were generally withheld by the police stations.
The official said the Adiala Jail administration received postal ballots from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in mid-January and the ballots were provided to the inmates. The last date for submission was Jan.22.
A woman casts her vote at a polling station. AFP
However, the jail superintendent, Asad Javed Warraich, extended the time after which the votes were transmitted to the district returning officers (DROs) of respective constituencies in sealed envelopes.
A senior official said that since some inmates were from far-flung areas, the exercise was completed at least a fortnight before the elections to ensure the delivery to the DROs before final counting.
Jail officials said that Bushra Bibi also wanted to cast her vote through a postal ballot, but her request could not be entertained since the process had been completed by the time she was detained.