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Last update: Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11am

LG polls in Sindh: Imran optimistic about PTI's performance

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the second largest political force in Sindh - posing a threat to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in up-coming local government elections scheduled to be held on October 31. Pakistan People's Party is in a position to win from rural Sindh but a neck-to-neck fight is expected in urban Sindh between MQM and the alliance of PTI and Jamaat-e- Islami in the local government polls in Sindh

Former Secretary ECP told Business Recorder that PPP's presence in urban Sindh is only visible in Lyari and adjoining areas otherwise the party is in a weak position in Karachi and Hyderabad. He maintained that in previous local body elections, MQM got the lion's share but this time the organization of Jamaat-e-Islami and public support of PTI could put up a good show.

In a latest development, both the parties have decided to contest on each other's election symbol in select constituencies. The PTI is facing a tough situation relative to the Jamaat, as it has short of Urdu speaking candidates in Urdu speaking constituencies. Dr Arif Alvi has been assigned the task of reorganizing the party in Sindh and plan for the local bodies' polls. He told Business Recorder that there will be seat adjustment with JI on some of the seats.

Alvi said that PPP has been challenged for the first time in the interior Sindh and that is why the ruling party of the province is in a state of panic, adding rigging has already commenced as the PTI candidates' nominations are being rejected by Returning Officers (RO) without solid reason.

According to the recent election results, PTI candidates gave a tough time to their opponents in a majority of provincial and National Assembly seats in Sindh even though not a single PTI candidate has won so far. An official of the election commission said that PTI clinched the second largest number of votes cast. This, in itself, is a significant change from previous elections as the PTI managed to get up to 30,000 votes in Pakistan People's Party (PPP) stronghold Lyari and the MQM's home constituency Azizabad.

People have voted for the PPP and MQM since 1988 onwards. At present, the MQM is going through a turbulent phase because of the ongoing crackdown by the law enforcement agencies and the legal cases in London. People would vote for the PPP for their love for Bhutto in rural Sindh. PPP Karachi Information Secretary, Lateef Mughal, said that the party would contest the elections in all six districts of the Karachi Municipal Corporation and District Council Karachi. He maintained that the position of his party in urban area is as strong as in rural areas.

In Punjab, despite, price hike, power shortages and poor law and order situation, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is still in a good position with respect to the forthcoming local bodies' elections. However, all these factors with a strong presence of PTI, especially in urban areas could well give some surprise results. PTI is already showed its presence in important cities of the Punjab where it got thousands of votes in every constituency.

A PML-N ticket holder Mohammad Imran for local government elections in Rawalpindi said that in Punjab candidates emerged from different local groups who had political rivalries since decades. Therefore, if one group gets PML-N ticket, the other will look for another party ticket which is PTI as PPP is almost finished from urban centers of Punjab. The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday released a statement showing the number of high sensitive, sensitive and normal polling stations for the first phase of the local government elections in Punjab and Sindh.

As per details, there are 16,266 polling stations in twelve districts including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Pakpattan, Okara, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar, out of which, 3,551 polling stations have been declared high sensitive. A total of 8,300 have been declared sensitive and 4,441 polling stations are normal.

The districts in Sindh where local bodies' polls are being held in first phase are Sukkur, Khairpur, Ghotki, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore and Qamber. The ECP has finalized arrangements for the first phase of local government elections in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Ballot papers have been handed over to the provinces.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2015