PPP claims victory in 2nd Phase of Sindh LG Polls

-Emerges biggest winner in Karachi with 93 wins; JI a close second with 86, according to official results
-JI victorious on over 100 seats in Karachi, claims party Chief
-PTI rejects results, demands resignations
-Saeed Ghani says PPP not to enter talks with PTI for Karachi mayor, can seek alliance with JI

From Abid Usman

KARACHI: The PPP emerged the biggest winner with 93 seats and the Jamaat-i-Islami a close second with 86 seats as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday released the final consolidated results of all 235 union councils in Sindh’s Karachi division after close to a 30-hour wait.
Polling in the provincial capital was held on Sunday for the posts of chairman and vice chairman.
According to the complete results, the PTI was a distant third with 40 seats, followed by the PML-N with seven seats.
Independent candidates and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam won three seats each, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan took two seats whereas Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan secured a single seat for itself, despite an earlier boycott of the local body polls announced by the party.
The electoral body had earlier said that the remaining results would be released by Monday evening, adding that it was “a complicated process and it takes time to prepare the result of one union council”.
On Jan 15, the second phase of the local government elections in Sindh was held in 16 districts of Sindh — East, West, South, Central, Korangi, Keamari, and Malir of the Karachi division; and Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sujawal, and Thatta of the Hyderabad division.
However, the polls came under a question mark on Sunday night when contesting parties — primarily the PTI and the JI — alleged that the results of the polls were deliberately being delayed in Karachi.
The PTI openly accused the PPP, provincial administration and the electoral body of wrongdoing, warning that any attempt to “change the results” after voting would lead to a strong reaction.
JI had come up with the same reservations and allegations. Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, the party’s Karachi chief, held at a hurriedly called press conference in Karachi on Sunday night and warned of sieging the polling stations where he said results were deliberately being delayed “to manage things”.

In Hyderabad and rural districts of the province, the key contestant Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) — an umbrella of different political parties representing the opposition — rejected the electoral process and demanded “immediate intervention” of the state institutions. It also blamed the ECP for facilitating the ruling PPP in rigging and violation of the code of conduct.

On the other hand, the PPP accused the PTI of violating the rules and going beyond all set rules to sabotage the peaceful process, mainly in Karachi.

In a media statement issued by Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan Monday, the ECP said the results were being transferred to the offices of returning officers from all polling stations.

“Each union council (UC) consists of four wards and around 20 polling stations, and the final result of a UC remains incomplete if a result sheet of even one polling station is left,” the ECP said.

The provincial election commissioner informed that each RO had at least five UCs, which “is causing a delay in releasing the poll results”.

Chauhan said the results were being prepared on an excel sheet on computers, reminding critics that there was no result transmission system (RTS) in place during the local government elections.

It is pertinent to mention here that the RTS purportedly “malfunctioned” on the night of the 2018 general elections, prompting widespread rigging allegations. At the time, the ECP had to revert to the traditional method of counting votes in the absence of the transmission system.

In a media talk later in thd day, Chauhan elaborated that each returning officer had five to six UCs to oversee, which in turn had 5 constituencies. This meant that if an RO had 5 UCs, they had 25 constituencies.
The ECP official highlighted that Forms 11 and 12 had to be prepared for each of those constituencies, terming the process “time-consuming” and involving “extensive labour”.

“The election commission is aware of its constitutional duties and is sincere in holding free, fair and transparent elections. We have left no stone unturned in this,” he asserted.

“God willing, the results of all 246 union committees of Karachi will be ready by today evening,” Chauhan vowed.

In a press conference on Monday, JI’s Naeemur Rehman claimed that his party had emerged victorious on over 100 seats in Karachi while there was confusion in the results of nearly 10 to 15 union councils.

“We have evidence that we are heading towards clear victory,” he told reporters in Karachi.

Rehman alleged that the returning officers were “withholding results” and attempts were being made to manoeuvre them.

“I spoke to the authorities yesterday, including ECP officials. The chief minister also called and assured me that this issue will be resolved. However, 18 hours have passed and the results have still not been released,” he said.

The JI chief demanded that ROs “trying to tamper results” must be stopped and demanded the ECP take notice.

“I am not talking on hearsay. My party worked hard [for the elections] and we ran a campaign. We were the only party that wanted elections. We put in the effort and ensured that the elections were held. We praised the ECP when it fulfilled its responsibility. But if you do something wrong, we will expose you as well.”

Rehman also warned the PPP and ECP against depriving people of their rights. “If you want to talk, sit and resolve this matter but you must do things with discipline […] we should be given our rights and this matter should be resolved in the next few hours,” he said.

The JI chief added that if the process of counting votes continued on merit, his party would be able to bring its mayor to Karachi.

“But attempts are being made to turn us into a minority. I want to tell the chief election commissioner, Bilawal, CM and election staff to not take measures that force us to stage a protest,” Rehman added.

Meanwhile, PTI Sindh President Ali Haider Zaidi said that his party rejected the LG election’s results due to “rigging and political engineering”.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, he said, “Since no one in this city is accepting the results, the PTI rejects the results.”

He said his party would have “gladly accepted” any result, had it been fair.

Zaidi demanded that the chief election commissioner resigns from his post as he was a “dishonest person and an extension of the PDM”.

Addressing Sindh Inspector General (IG) Ghulam Nabi Memon, he said, “IG sahab, it was your responsibility to hold the elections honestly without listening to any MNA, MPA, minister [or] political engineer.

“You failed before and have failed again. I demand your resignation as well.”

Moreover, the PTI leader demanded Karachi Additional Inspector General (AIG) Javed Odho to resign, saying: “AIG Karachi sahab, I have had cordial relations with you for the past 15-17 years you also failed [so] you should also resign. I demand your resignation as well.”

Zaidi added, “You should leave the post if you cannot handle the pressure when calls come from above.”

The PTI leader lambasted the PPP for “rigging the elections” and claiming victory through “political engineering and manipulation of votes”.

Separately, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said the PPP will not enter into any negotiations with the PTI for securing the coveted position of Karachi’s mayor.

Addressing a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building on Monday, Ghani, who is also the PPP Karachi president, conceded that “no single political party on its own” could secure the mayoral post.

He said the people of Karachi had “exposed the reality of the results of rigged general elections held in 2018” by choosing the PPP as the “largest party in the local government polls”.

Ghani said that as per the unofficial results, the PPP had emerged victorious in over 100 UCs in Karachi.

He also congratulated JI and Rehman for remaining the runner-up in the polls, saying the people of the city had also shown their confidence in the party.

To a question, Ghani said it had been the PPP’s desire that the MQM-P should not have boycotted the local government polls.

He said the people of Karachi had proved “utterly wrong” the impression that the PTI was the popular political party in the provincial capital.

Meanwhile, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari thanked the people of Karachi and Hyderabad who he said helped the party “sweep” the polls.