Rigging claims mar Karachi LG results

-Withholding results of various Karachi constituencies prompts rigging claims in Phase-II of Sindh LG Polls 
-Results not issued till past midnight despite ECP’s orders to ROs
-PPP, JI, PTI claim to secure Karachi mayoral slot
-Polling process ended at 5pm in all constituencies
-JI’s Hafiz Naeem blames ECP-PPP nexus for post-polling ‘rigging’ at late-night
-Services of LEAs lauded; PTI claims polls ‘being spoiled’

From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: As the initial results of the much-delayed local body (LB) election’s second phase in Karachi could not be finalised even past midnight despite the polling process ending at 5pm on Sunday, political parties started claiming that “rigging is underway in the metropolis”.
The voting kicked off at 8am and continued uninterrupted, with reports of sporadic clashes. However, several confrontations were also reported even after the polling process ended.
The parties were seemingly did not respond strongly to the clashes, however, later on, claims were made that the Sindh government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were involved in delaying the release of results. As hundreds of thousands of people headed to vote in a bid to elect their local representatives, many political parties had also earlier complained and demanded the ECP to increase the polling time as the process began late at some of the stations — which was accepted in some polling stations.

At first, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) — an ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) alleged that the Sindh government had used delaying tactics by not ensuring that the polling officers reach the stations on time.

“Everything has been pre-decided and they have just staged the elections for a show,” JUI-F’s Karachi leader Qari Usman alleged while speaking to reporters in the metropolis.
When the day began to pass and results stopped coming in, JI Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman alleged that rigging was underway in the metropolis as he castigated both — the ECP and Sindh government.

In response to the delay, JI’s Karachi Rehman directed the public to encircle polling stations across the city as he made claims of rigging in the process.

Addressing a presser at the Idarah Noor-e-Haq, the JI’s mayoral candidate said that “it is the party’s constitutional, democratic, and legal right” to be provided numbers of their election results.

However, the JI’s senior leader said Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had issued clear orders to provide Forms 11 and 12, “which are not being followed”.

The JI leader stressed that while he would congratulate successful candidates in the local body polls and encourage those who had lost, the party won’t allow the hijacking of people’s mandate.

Rehman, during a press conference later on, asked the election commission to ensure that all the “results are released to the polling agents and the media”.

“If anyone tries to change the results, then we will not hold back,” the senior JI leader said, claiming that his party would form a simple majority.

In response, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said the JI and Rehman’s politics revolves around protests and sit-ins — explaining the party’s recent protests against the provincial administration.

“When the results started trickling in, the losers began their bid to escape,” the Sindh government spokesperson told media.
“Till yesterday, Jamaat-e-Islami was calling on [ECP and provincial government] to hold elections, but now, when the results are coming in, the party’s now talking about protests,” he said.

Later in a statement, Wahab also expressed concerns over the delay in the release of the forms and asked the election commission to ensure that they are issued on time. A similar concern was raised by PPP leader Saeed Ghani.
In a statement, Murtaza Wahab claimed that so far, the results of local government (LG) elections were showing that the next Karachi Mayor will be a ‘PPP’s Jiyala’.
In a letter after the claims emerged, ECP Deputy Director Sajjad Khattak directed the district returning officers (DROs) to ensure that the “complaints of the parties are addressed”.

“I am directed to say that this office has received various complaints from different political parties and candidates that the presiding officers are not giving copies of Form 11 and Form 12 to their polling agents present at polling stations,” the letter said.

The deputy director asked the DROs to direct all the presiding officers under their jurisdiction through their relevant returning officers to ensure that the copies of the “forms are accordingly handed over to all the polling agents present at the polling station.
Ahead of the conclusion of the polling process, Rehman appreciated the law enforcement agencies for keeping peace in Karachi during the polls.

Rehman, after casting his vote, claimed that people burned the camps in some places, however, voters are still reaching their respective polling stations.

“No untoward incident has been reported from [Districts] Central and East,” he added. He claimed that the people want a JI member to be elected as mayor.

Talking about the MQM-P’s decision to boycott the elections, the JI leader said that the party has run away from the polls.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary-General Asad Umar claimed that the election staff has not reached some of the polling stations. He alleged that efforts are being made to spoil the polls.
Around 8,706 polling stations were set up for the local body polls with 1,204 for males and 1,170 for females in the two divisions — Karachi and Hyderabad. Out of the total polling station, over 8,000 were declared as “sensitive” or “highly sensitive.”

It is pertinent to mention here that 830 candidates — seven in Karachi and 823 in Hyderabad — have been elected unopposed in the two divisions.
In Hyderabad, 6,774 candidates contested for 1,675 seats of chairmen, vice chairmen of union councils/union committees, and the general wards.

While in Karachi, 9,058 candidates are in the race for 246 seats of chairman, vice chairman, and general member.