Sunday Jan 15, 2023
Just hours before the holding of much-delayed polls, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) announced a boycott of the second phase of the local bodies elections being held in seven districts of Sindh — including in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.
The party's statement came after it had demanded fresh delimitation before holding the local body elections, and despite the Sindh government's announcement to delay the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) insisted that they go ahead — on January 15 — without further interruption.
The second round of LG elections was scheduled to take place on July 24 last year, but the Sindh government excused itself from holding the polls over the lack of security and police presence due to the flooding. Later, the elections were also postponed on August 28 and October 23. Finally, after much ado, the polls are taking place today.
In a press conference alongside the party's senior leadership, MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool said: "The local body elections have already been rigged. Accordingly, we refuse to recognise the polls."
Dr Siddiqui added that the election commission was formed to conduct the polls in a transparent manner. “However, the election commission has not fulfilled its responsibility towards its main function. The party protested against this injustice.”
"We have been fighting for justice until today [January 15]. The provincial government also drew the ECP's attention to the delimitations of the constituencies," he said. But, the ECP turned a deaf ear to all entreaties of MQM-P, he claimed.
"All the efforts that Muttahida put in were not meant for the mayorship but for the proper representation of the city," he emphasised. He went on to say that the city would not acknowledge these elections as “there is no voter list or delimitations properly managed by the ECP”. “
Accordingly, the party is withdrawing from today's local bodies elections in protest,” he said, calling on the citizens of the metropolis to withdraw their right to vote.
The ECP, he also said, did not listen to the MQM-P's reservations. "Therefore, we will not participate in elections that will not lead to democracy and that will not reflect a mandate," he said.
The MQM-P leader appealed to citizens to remain at home and participate in the protest. It is because the results of today's elections are not going to reach the people, he stressed.
According to the party convener, the true heir of the city “will return again”. “The MQM-P will start its concerted and organised work from January 16 [for the general elections]," he added.