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Pakistan

Sindh LG polls: Results awaited as JI levels rigging allegations

  • Irregularities, rigging allegations, and delay in results mar second phase of Sindh LG polls
Published January 15, 2023 Updated January 16, 2023

Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Karachi chapter Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman on Sunday threatened to stage sit-ins across Karachi if the results of the much-awaited second phase of local body elections in Sindh were not announced on time, Aaj News reported.

Addressing a press conference in Karachi, Naeem said that the presiding officers were bound to give Forms 11 and 12 as per law but some Deputy Commissioners working in favour of the PPP-led Sindh government were interfering in the process.

The JI leader said that the results were expected to come out by 10 pm. However, he said that his party had not been provided with the forms even after 11 pm.

"If the forms are not provided in the next one hour and the ROs do not announce the results, there will be sit-ins across the city," he warned, adding that the party would announce its strategy after consultation.

Earlier, the vote count began after polling ended for the second phase of local government elections in the 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad on Sunday. Polling began at 8 am and continued till 5 pm without any interruption.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Zaidi demanded a two-hour extension in polling time across the metropolis, claiming that polling in majority polling stations started by 12 pm due to the non-availability of election staff.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected the claim, saying the polling across the province would end at 5 pm. It, however, said that voting time will be increased in "some" polling stations where the polling began after the scheduled time.

A total of 8857 polling stations were set up by ECP for the second phase of LG polls while 17863 candidates are contesting the polls.

Around 8,153 of the polling stations were declared ‘sensitive’ or ‘highly sensitive’.

A total of 830 candidates were elected unopposed in 16 districts of two divisions, including seven in Karachi, and 823 in the Hyderabad division.

All educational institutions in Karachi and Hyderabad remained closed on Saturday in connection with the preparations for the local bodies’ elections.

“The public and private institutions under the Administration of School Education and Literacy Department of respective districts remained closed on Saturday,” a notification issued by the School Education and Literacy Department said.

Meanwhile, in a tweet, PTI Chief Imran Khan urged people to come out and vote for their representatives.

“Their vote today is essential if they want to change their lives,” he added.

The ECP on Friday rejected the Sindh government’s ruling to further postpone the polls and announced that local government (LG) elections in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Dadu would take place on January 15.

The provincial government’s order was rejected on basis of legal and constitutional principles. “Local government polls in Karachi and the rest of Sindh will be held as per the schedule,” said CEC. “Army and Rangers officials should be posted at high-risk polling stations for security purposes.”

MQM-P boycotts Karachi, Hyderabad LG polls

After a day-long consultation, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Saturday night announced that it would boycott the local government (LG) elections scheduled to take place today (January 15) in three divisions of Sindh, including Karachi and Hyderabad.

Earlier, amid speculation that the MQM-P could part ways with the coalition government or even boycott the elections, Bilawal offered the party some last-minute advice.

Talking to a private TV channel, he said the MQM-P was a “very old and senior” political party and advised it to “fully participate” in the LG elections, adding that the elections were crucial so political parties could work together for the development of Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.

Second phase of the Sindh LG elections

The second phase of the Sindh LG elections was originally scheduled for July 24. Still, the ECP moved it to August 28 citing “possible rains and bad weather” in Sindh.

On August 24, the ECP postponed the polls for a second time due to persistent rains and the risk of urban flooding and announced that voting would be held on October 23.

On October 18, the ECP delayed the polls once again at the request of the Sindh government, which said that there were difficulties in providing security for the elections as it is facing a shortage of 16,000 police personnel.

On November 16, federal and Sindh governments refused to provide the required assistance to the ECP for holding local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions as the electoral body reserved its verdict in the case related to delay in LG polls in these two divisions comprising 16 districts.

The Interior Ministry officials conveyed to the ECP that military and paramilitary personnel could not be assigned first-tier election duties in the LG polls due to their extensive engagements in different parts of the country.

The Sindh government cited the engagement of Sindh police in flood relief operations to refuse the provision of the required number of police personnel for security during LG polls in the two divisions.

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Sheraz Jan 15, 2023 08:09pm
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