Thursday Jan 19, 2023
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Sindh LG election controversies do not 'augur well' for general elections: FAFEN

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Polling officials count votes at a polling station in Hyderabad during the local body elections on January 19, 2023. — INP
Polling officials count votes at a polling station in Hyderabad during the local body elections on January 19, 2023. — INP
  • Controversies stem from weaknesses in legislative framework: FAFEN.
  • "Such controversies will continue to weaken the public trust in democracy."
  • "They need to be rectified through negotiations among all political actors."

The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) said Thursday the controversies that marred the second phase of the local body elections in Sindh would not bode well for the general polls — expected later this year.

Delayed results marred the January 15 local elections, which prompted rigging allegations from political parties — Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and others.

"Controversies over the quality of electoral processes do not augur well, particularly when the political parties are preparing for general elections that are constitutionally due by October 11, 2023," the FAFEN said in its report on the polls.

The electoral watchdog said that many of these controversies stem from weaknesses in the legislative framework that governs elections, which need to be rectified through wide-ranging negotiations among all political actors coming together for electoral reforms irrespective of their political differences.

Unless elections lead to political stability, the process of democratisation will continue to weaken and so will the public trust in democracy and its ability to improve the social and economic well-being of the people, the report said.

"The election commission, at the same time, needs to open up to political actors and address their legitimate concerns through the regulatory space available to it under the Elections Act, 2017, to ensure truly 'inclusive' elections, minimising the eventualities of poll boycotts by major political parties in future."

Issues with presiding officers

They reported that although the provisional results of Karachi were publicly available within two days amidst allegations of manipulation and rigging, the consolidated results of the districts in the Hyderabad Division are still awaited.

The ECP, it said, had reserved four days from the polling day for consolidation of the election results in its original notification for the second phase dated June 10, 2022.

FAFEN observers noted omissions and inadequacies in the polling station result forms — Form-11 (Statement of the Count) — recurring during the second phase.

"They reported cases where presiding officers did not duly fill out the result forms leaving empty sections made for recording polling stations’ names, registered voters, gender-disaggregated number of votes polled, and signatures of polling officials," it said.

Voter turnout and situation

Despite controversies and uncertainty over the conduct of elections, the FAFEN said, an impressive number of people turned to vote in local government elections in Badin, Jamshoro, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allah Yar, Thatta, and Malir Districts.

The report added that however, the voter turnout remained relatively lower in Karachi Central, Karachi East, Karachi West, Karachi South, Korangi, Hyderabad, and Kemari Districts.

According to, the turnout in Hyderabad remained at more than 40%, while in Karachi it was less than 20% with the exception of Malir. The turnout in Karachi and Hyderabad Divisions remained at 36% and 58%, respectively, in the last local government elections held in 2015.

The voting process remained orderly, unlike the previous phase when instances of overcrowding at polling stations led to untoward situations, the report said.

"The legal and procedural irregularities and inadequacies concerning campaigning and canvassing inside and around the polling stations and the ballot issuance process observed during the first phase persisted during the second phase as well."

The election day environment was largely peaceful as FAFEN received only 14 reports of verbal altercations on January 15, 2023, as compared to 55 incidents of violence including some physical and armed clashes during the first phase, the report added.

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