Opposition rejects results of Phase-I Sindh LG Polls

-PPP violated agreement with MQM-P during LG polls, alleges Wasim
-Says ECP will be responsible if polls in Karachi, Hyderabad also ‘mismanaged’
-JUI-F, GDA announce to stage protest outside ECP office
-Bilawal felicitates PPP over securing 487 General Member seats

From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: Senior MQM-P leader and Former Mayor Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, on Monday accused coalition partner PPP of violating their agreement and “stealing” his party’s mandate during the first phase of Sindh’s local government elections.
The ruling PPP in Sindh and the MQM-P had signed a deal in March this year against the PTI-led government, with the former assuring the latter of meeting all its years-old demands if it supported the opposition alliance to oust the then ruling government through a no-confidence motion, which eventually succeeded.
The demands of the MQM-P agreed upon under the deal range from municipal government structure to future power-sharing formula and recruitment policy in Sindh to local policing system.
The first point of the agreement named the Charter of Rights was directly related to the Sindh local government, in which the two sides had agreed that the decision of the Supreme Court regarding local governments in a constitutional petition filed by the MQM-P would be “implemented in letter and spirit within one month and with the mutual agreement”.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Akhtar recalled that his party’s agreement with the PPP “categorically” said that both sides will accept and protect each other’s mandate. “This is one of the core points that were violated by the Sindh government in LG elections in 14 districts,” he lamented. Akhtar claimed that in several areas of MQM-P candidates were in lead with a “good margin” but the results have been withheld. “Our mandate has not been accepted”. He urged Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to hold a meeting with the Election Commission of Pakistan and review delimitations.
The MQM-P leader said the ECP will be responsible if elections were held in a similar way in Karachi and Hyderabad “with no government in sight to stop electoral mismanagement and robbing of mandate”. Polling for the second phase of the LG election in the two cities will be held on July 24.
Akhtar urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to look into the matter, regretting that “Karachi has been counted as half [its actual size in census] and there can be no greater injustice than this.” It is pertinent to mention here that the prime minister on Saturday agreed to a proposal of the MQM-P that sought a committee comprising its members as well those from the PML-N to look into the execution and progress on the terms agreed between the two sides before coming into power. Lambasting the ECP, Akhtar also warned of “severe mismanagement and chaos” in the general elections of 2023 if the ECP did not take “timely measures” to address the problems arising in local government elections.
Akhtar said his party had exhausted all the options to get Karachi its due rights. “Should we now approach Russia and China to urge them to resolve our issues?” the ex-mayor asked.
He said he trusted the words of PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari wherein he had assured MQM-P of resolving its issues. “Then why is the implementation of the commitment being delayed,” he wondered.
Meanwhile, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) also rejected the results of the local government elections, which placed the PPP at the top, saying that they would stage a protest outside the ECP’s provincial office on June 28 (today).
Speaking at a press conference alongside GDA’s General Secretary Dr Safdar Abbasi, JUI-F’s Rashid Mehmood Soomro claimed that he had been voting at a particular polling station for years but this time round his name was not included in the voter list.
He went on to say that Sunday’s election was marred by violence and rigging. Sunday, ballots were being stamped till 10pm in our union committee, he said, adding that two terrorism cases were registered against a party candidate.
He maintained that even though JUI-F garnered the second highest number of votes, the party still rejected the results. He said that in such a situation, the JUI-F had started consultations with other parties which could perhaps lead to a boycott of the second phase of the local government elections.
Amidst incidents of violence, and clashes, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won with a big margin in the first phase of Sindh LG polls in 14 districts of the province, according to the unofficial results.
According to the unofficial and unconfirmed results, Pakistan People’s Party grabbed 487 sets of Town Committees during the first phase of LG polls in Sindh.
The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) stood second with 78 seats, Independents third with 60 Town Committees seats, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fourth with 12 seats.
Seven Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazlur-backed (JUIF) candidates were declared victorious while JUI and MQM secured two and one general member seats respectively.
Following the unofficial results, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday congratulated Pakistan People’s Party on its victory in the local government elections in 14 districts of Sindh.
Taking to Twitter, the foreign minister congratulated the PPP on ‘outstanding performance’ in the first phase of Sindh LG polls in 14 districts of the province. “People chose a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Sindh,” he wrote.
“[People] rejected politics of hate and division. [They] have rejected politics based on religion or ethnicity. They chose Jinnah’s,” the foreign minister added.