Monday, January 16, 2023
KARACHI/HYDERABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is in the driving seat as the much-awaited results of Karachi's local body elections came in, with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) trailing behind, unofficial results showed Monday.
The delay in the release of results — despite the polling being closed at 5pm on Sunday — had prompted rigging allegations from the opposition parties — Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).
However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) claimed that the results were compiled in a transparent manner, while the PPP-led government also denied its involvement in rigging the polls.
Out of the 235 union committees (UCs) up for grabs, PPP leads with victories on 93 UCs, JI has secured second place with 86, PTI 40, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) seven, JUI-F and independent three, while the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) two.
The voting which kicked off at 8am on Sunday — continued uninterrupted with reports of sporadic clashes — ended at 5pm on the same day, but the results were not released, prompting rigging claims.
As hundreds of thousands of people headed to vote in a bid to elect their local representatives, many political parties had also earlier complained and demanded the ECP to increase the polling time as the process began late at some of the stations — which was accepted in some polling stations.
Analysts said that despite the process of elections being the responsibility of the election commission, it would raise questions if the PPP wins the polls in Karachi since it is the ruling party.
PTI also suffered a major setback in Karachi local bodies polls when Khurram Sher Zaman — who was considered the party’s candidate for the top slot of the mayor — lost to PPP’s Najmi Alam in Saddar.
In response to the results, JI Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman told Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada that the numbers were "fudged" and a majority was converted into a minority.
"I urge the election commission and PPP to not rig the polls. We were not provided forms 11 and 12. We were winning almost 100 UCs and on the other hand, PPP was just ahead in 70-75 UCs," he said.
Rehman added that he has called his party's meeting after going through the results and claimed that the party's outcome was changed — the winner was forced into second place.
"If they accept that we are the number 1 party, then we will talk with them [PPP]. Given the results of these polls, we are in no mood to speak to the PPP," the JI leader said, vowing to knock on every door possible for overturning the results.
Slamming competing parties for accusations of engineering, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said evidence of rigging in the local body polls in Karachi and Hyderabad should be presented in the court.
“If JI has reservations, then it should approach the relevant forum,” the provincial minister told Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada.
The PPP leader added that his brother also lost the elections and had the party manipulated results, he would have emerged victorious. “The delimitation was done by the election commission,” Ghani maintained.
The minister categorically refuted contacting the PTI after the announcement of election results, but preferred talks with JI.
“JI has received the mandate. They will be the first party with whom we will talk. We will talk to all other parties except for PTI,” he reiterated.
Ghani shared that PPP’s Najmi Alam is one of the winners in the local government elections and he would be prioritised when names for the post of mayorship are to be floated. “The party leadership will make final decision on who will be named for Karachi’s mayor,” the minister said.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi Monday morning, JI Karachi President Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman said: "We are not getting the results from the returning officers (RO) despite over 18 hours of delay since the conclusion of polling."
He strongly condemned the delay and called on the authorities concerned to stop the ROs who are "trying to change the results".
He said that a lot of people from the PPP also voted for JI. He further claimed that his party has won over 100 seats, adding that there is ambiguity on the rest of the seats.
Senior PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, while talking on Geo News programme "Geo Pakistan", questioned the slow dispersal of results despite the lower turnout, saying that his party rejects the election results.
"PTI is at the peak of its popularity, and the results do not reflect that," claimed Firdous.
Provincial Election Commissioner Aijaz Anwar Chohan on Monday rubbished the rigging allegations in the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions due to delay in results, saying that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had a "strict monitoring" mechanism to ensure free and fair elections.
The results of the much-delayed local body election's second phase in Sindh could not be finalised even past noon on the day after polls, which gave rise to claims of “rigging" and results being engineered in Karachi.
Speaking to media in the metropolis, Chohan said that holding LG polls is a big exercise and has its own challenges. However, the electoral body fulfilled its duty efficiently, he said.
The provincial election commissioner said that the preparation of Form 11 was the first thing to be done after the conclusion of polling on Sunday. He explained the entire process of preparing results, saying that one returning officer (RO) has to make results of five to six union councils (UC).
He said that there are around 25 constituencies in a UC and the RO has to make Form 11 and 12 for each of the constituencies.
Chohan further stated that a presiding officer has to make five separate forms for four categories for a single polling station, and then these forms are sent to the ROs.
"All 11 and 12 forms were handed over to the ROs in Karachi by 11am today," he said.
He went on to say that there were 4,990 polling stations in Karachi and it makes almost 10,000 forms if we do the calculation.
Chohan said that the preparation of appendix A — unofficial results — by the ROs was underway and the results will be finalised by this evening.
Responding to the claims of rigging, Chohan clarified that ECP had a very strict monitoring mechanism and he can confidently say that no official was involved in rigging.
However, he said a strict legal action will be taken if any official was found involved in rigging
He asked the political parties to trust that the "ECP is aware of its constitutional responsibility and is serious in holding free and fair elections".
Meanwhile, PPP has won 27 out of 160 union committees of nine towns of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) while PTI emerged victorious on nine UCs, JI on one and one independent candidate won, according to unofficial and inconclusive results.
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.
Likewise, 124 ward councillors from PPP, five from MQM-P, four from PTI, one each from Qaumi Awami Tehreek and TLP 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.
Around 8,706 polling stations were set up for the local body polls with 1,204 for males and 1,170 for females in the two divisions — Karachi and Hyderabad. Out of the total polling station, over 8,000 were declared as “sensitive” or “highly sensitive.”
It is pertinent to mention here that 830 candidates — seven in Karachi and 823 in Hyderabad — have been elected unopposed in the two divisions.
In Hyderabad, 6,774 candidates contested for 1,675 seats of chairmen, vice chairmen of union councils/union committees, and the general wards.
While in Karachi, 9,058 candidates are in the race for 246 seats of chairman, vice chairman, and general member.