As the initial results of second phase of much-delayed local bodies (LB) elections in Karachi could not be finalised even past midnight despite the polling process ending at 5pm on Sunday, political parties started claiming that rigging was underway in the metropolis. However, late Sunday night PPP sources claimed victory on 85 seats in Karachi, JI 100 and PTI 48.
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 seemingly did not respond strongly to the clashes; however, later on, claims were made that the Sindh government and 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 earlier complained and demanded the ECP to increase the polling time as the process began late at some of the stations. The demand was accepted at some polling stations.
Because of the puzzling delay in LG poll results, candidates waited for results outside the offices of ROs till early hours of Monday.
At first, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF), 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 reached the stations on time.
“Everything has been pre-decided and they have just staged the elections for a show,” JUIF’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 and castigated both the ECP and Sindh government.
Analysts said that despite the process of elections being the responsibility of the election commission, it would stir a controversy if the PPP wins the polls in Karachi since it was the ruling party.
In response, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said the JI and Rehman’s politics revolve 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 Geo News via telephone.
“Till yesterday, Jamaat-e-Islami was calling on [the ECP and the government] to hold elections, but now when the results are coming in, the party’s talking about protests,” he said.
Later in a statement, Wahab also expressed concerns over the delay in the release of forms and asked the ECP to ensure that they were issued on time. A similar concern was raised by PPP leader Saeed Ghani.
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 were 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 the polling stations,” the letter said.
The deputy director asked the DROs to direct all the presiding officers under their jurisdiction through their concerned returning officers to ensure that the copies of forms were accordingly handed over to all the polling agents present at the polling station.
Meanwhile, out of 160 union committees of nine towns of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC), Pakistan Peoples Party has won 27, PTI nine, Jamaat-e-Islami one and one independent candidate has won according to unofficial and inconclusive results of the Municipal Elections 2022-23 in Hyderabad.
For the first time in history, the PPP is now in a position to win the post of mayor of the second-largest city of the province; it is already leading on 31 seats of chairmen and vice chairmen. With results of 58 seats pending, the PPP needs 23 more seats to have its mayor.
The HMC consists of nine town committees having a total of 160 union councils with four wards in each UC.
According to unofficial results, the PPP has won four seats in Qasimabad Town, three in Hussainabad Town, five in Sarfaraz Town, four in Naironkot Town, three in Sachal Sarmast Town, one in Tondo Fazal Town and three in Tando Jam Town.
The PTI won four seats from Shah Latif Town and five seats from Sachal Sarmast Town. Jamaat-e-Islami won one union committee and three wards from Shah Latif Town, while an independent candidate for chairman and a councillor has also won. One candidate of Awami National Party has won the councillor seat in Sachal Sarmast Town.
Likewise, 124 ward councillors from PPP, five from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, four from PTI, one each from Qaumi Awami Tehreek and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan besides eight independents have emerged victorious uncontested.
The polling on five seats of chairmen and vice chairmen and six of general ward members had been postponed because of the deaths of contesting candidates, while three seats of general ward members are vacant with no contestant.
In district Jamshoro, PPP faced some upsets in Jamshoro, Kotri, Sann and Mehar, while the Mirza group was completely wiped out from district Badin. Sources said PPP had maintained its winning streak across Badin, Matiari, Sajawal and other cities and towns.