Friday, June 17, 2022
KARACHI: The TLP Thursday was on the cusp of victory in the NA-240 by-election, according to unofficial results. And if it wins, it will deal a major setback to the MQM-P — a party that emerged victorious in the constituency during the last three elections.
The MQM-P won the constituency with a major margin in the 2018 general elections, while it has also emerged victorious on the seat in 2013 and 2008. In the 2002 polls, the Muhajir Qaumi Movement won the polls, but after their MNA passed away, the MQM-P was able to win the seat in a by-poll.
Results from 299 polling stations out of the total 309 showed TLP candidate Shahzada Shahbaz leading the by-election by bagging 10,272 votes and MQM-P’s Abu Bakr being the runner-up by securing 10,261 votes.
The results at polling station 51 have been withheld due to violence, while sources said that after the results from 299 polling stations, the RTS system hung and the results could not be updated of the remaining polling stations.
Election commissioner Sindh said that the results will not be announced today.
The uninterrupted polling ended at 5pm, but the election day was marred by violence across the constituency, with one person belonging to the PSP losing his life, while several others sustained injuries — including ex-MPA Iftikhar Alam, who is also a member of the Mustafa Kamal-led party.
As many as 25 candidates took part in the contest for the seat that fell vacant after the death of MQM-P MNA Muhammad Ali Khan this year on April 19.
Senior journalist, Zia-ur-Rehman said that MQM-P’s loss will be a “turning point” in the city’s politics as it is going to reshape the local bodies' elections next month.
“This will be a concerning development for the MQM-P and the PPP alike,” the senior journalist told Geo.tv.
If the TLP wins, Rehman said, it would make it a strong contender in the local government elections as this was a “test” for them for the upcoming polls.
He noted that the TLP took the by-polls seriously as their chief, Saad Rizvi — the son of party founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi — was in the constituency for the last two days.
Talking to Geo News, PSP chief Mustafa Kamal confirmed that the deceased person was a member of his party and several others were in critical condition.
“He was our party member, who was an elderly person and resided in Baldia. The TLP people attacked us and killed my party member,” the PSP chairman said, rebutting the claims of the TLP that they were attacked.
Kamal said that had the PSP used weapons, no one would be able to open fire at their offices and return safely. “They (TLP) are spewing lies. I appeal to the authorities that arrest them or give us weapons.”
Ruling out that his party resorted to violence, Kamal said his party members’ “lives were very precious to him” and that he wanted action to be taken against TLP for allegedly gunning down his party member.
Kamal was present at the time when the firing incident took place during the by-polls — which witnessed low-voter turnout amid the violent clashes.
TLP leader Mufti Ghous Baghdadi, in conversation with Geo News, said that several of his party workers were injured in the clashes as he claimed that “losers” resorted to violence.
“The people who see that their loss is near resort to violence. All this violence took place under the supervision of Anees Kaimkhani and Mustafa Kamal,” he said.
The TLP leader said that the PSP leaders wanted to give an impression that there were no bigger “thugs” than them.
In the evening, the vehicle of PSP leader Anis Kaimkhani was fired upon in the Korangi area, but fortunately, the PSP leader was not in the car when the incident took place. The police mobile that was moving along with Kaimkhani's vehicle was also fired upon.
In response to the violence that marred the by-polls, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the incidents.
The information minister said CM Shah has spoken to Inspector-General Sindh Ghulam Nabi Memon and directed him to take action against those involved in the violence.
“A police party has been dispatched to arrest those responsible,” Memon said, adding that people had resorted to aerial firing and used sticks to beat members of rival parties.
The information minister, noting that seven to six people have also been injured so far, said that the government would try to ensure the polling process concludes safely.
In conversation with IG Sindh, the chief minister said that no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands and directed the high-ranking cop to ensure that a peaceful environment prevails in the city.
The chief minister told Memon to deal with the people responsible for violence with an iron hand, while he also asked all the political parties to remain peaceful.
MQM-P’s Rabbata Committee condemned the incident, saying that it was committed by the “thugs” of PSP and TLP and added that it was “well-organised planning” that affected the polling procedure.
The MQM-P, which was once a formidable political force in Karachi, said that its polling agents were beaten and thrown out of polling stations. The party said that “armed mobs” made polling staff hostage.
“The law enforcement agencies were playing the role of spectators as [members from political parties] locked polling stations,” the MQM-P said, demanding the ECP to take notice of the situation.
Meanwhile, Additional Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Karachi Javed Alam Odho said that he has spoken to the district returning officer (DRO) and will register a case against people involved in violence during the by-polls.
“Police are drafting a report and we will register a case on the complaint of the DRO,” the police chief of the metropolis said, adding that over 200 people were involved in violence.
The Karachi police chief went on to say that the authorities would soon identify those responsible, adding that a heavy contingent of police has cleared the area.
Regretting the violent incidents during the by-polls, PTI leader and former minister for maritime affairs Ali Zaidi appealed to the political parties and said “we cannot go back to the politics of violence”.
The former federal minister urged all political parties partaking in the elections to "exercise restraint" as he lashed out at the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for once again failing to maintain peace during polls.
“The ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) has also shown its incompetence,” Zaidi said, whose party has been at loggerheads with the election commission over various issues.
The PTI leader added that the “only way to ensure” violence does not take place during the elections is to deploy rangers personnel in and outside of the polling stations.
According to unofficial results from 171 of the total 309 polling stations, TLP’s Shahzada Shahbaz is leading with 9,525 votes, while MQM-P’s Abu Bakr is the runner-up with 9,447 votes.