Polling ends as vote count underway on 63 LG seats in Sindh

ECP declares 292 polling stations across Sindh "highly sensitive"; police assures political parties situation is now under control in Karachi

Aftab Ahmad
Azeem Samar

ECP officials counting votes at a polling station in Karachi. —AFP/File
ECP officials counting votes at a polling station in Karachi. —AFP/File
  • A total of 449 polling stations established in Sindh.
  • ECP says all polling stations in Karachi are highly sensitive.
  • JI accuses PPP govt of devising rigging plans.

The counting of votes is underway after polling concluded on remaining 63 local body seats in five divisions of Sindh amid a few incidents of violence in different areas of the province.

According to details, the polling process began at 8am and continued until 5pm without any pause in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Khairpur and other cities.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) allowed the voters present inside polling stations to cast their votes beyond the 5pm deadline.

It is pertinent to mention here that elections could not be held on the seats due to multiple reasons, including deaths of some candidates.

Geo News has started receiving unofficial and unconfirmed results of the elections, however, it will be announced at 6pm under the ECP’s rules and regulations.

The results of the 11 UCs may change the party position in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation where currently the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is the largest party, followed by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) with a close margin.

These 11 UCs in Karachi comprise:

  • UC-4 New Karachi, 
  • UC-6 North Nazimabad 
  • UC-13 New Karachi in District Central; 
  • UC-2 Korangi, 
  • UC-3 Shah Latif Town 
  • UC-8 Landhi in District Korangi
  • UC-1 Orangi
  • UC-2 Orangi 
  • UC-8 Mominabad in District West
  • UC-2 Bihar Colony in District South
  • UC-2 Baldia in District Keamari

The PPP had earlier criticised the ECP for conducting the by-elections before holding the mayoral elections, stating that it would set a bad precedent. However, the ECP did not accept the PPP’s demand.

A total of 449 polling stations have been established in Sindh for the by-polls where a total of 434 candidates are in the field. Over 690,000 voters are eligible to cast their votes in these by-polls.

Situation 'normal': police

Commenting on the matter of clashes during the by-polls, the police said that the situation in New Karachi’s Rasheedabad UC 13 Ward 1, Bihar Colony and UC 2 was “normal”.

Polling, as per the ECP spokesperson, began on schedule and was underway peacefully across all constituencies.

“The polling process is being monitored from the central control room in Islamabad. ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal is present with the monitoring team,” the electoral body said in a statement.

The complaints from a few polling stations, as per the media, have been resolved on the spot. “The complaints were of a minor nature regarding fights between workers,” the spokesperson said.

Election Commissioner for District Central is also monitoring all polling stations ensuring to review all complaints.

“The issue in New Karachi’s Rasheedabad was also resolved. The voting process is being conducted peacefully,” the official said.

The ECP official shared that no one is allowed to keep a mobile phone except for the presiding officer and that a police mobile is stationed at each polling station.

DC Central Taha Saleem said that he isn’t aware if polling began late at any station. “It is certain that polling agents arrived late at various polling stations. Whether an agent is present or not, the voting process begins on time.”

He added that it was the responsibility of polling agents to arrive at the venue on time.

When speaking with Geo News, Saleem shared that the commission received complaints from the PPP.

JI accuses PPP of making rigging plans

The JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman has urged Karachi's citizens to step out to vote and has also requested all relevant authorities to ensure smooth polling process.

A day earlier, he accused the PPP government of devising rigging plans, Rehman quoted some reports as saying that the presiding officers in district West had already been directed to cast bogus polls in favour of the ruling party before the commencement of the polling process.

Similarly, he said, the state machinery was being mobilised against political opponents of the ruling party in Ittehad Town and other areas in the city.

A large number of transfer and postings were ordered to manipulate the results, the JI leader said.

He made it clear that the party would not accept any attack on the mandate of the people of Karachi. He announced that JI teams would offer strong resistance if the PPP government opted to manipulate the electoral process or the results.

He warned that the PPP government would be held responsible for any untoward situation emerging in the aftermath of resistance against any rigging attempt.

The election cell of JI has also written a letter to ECP Sindh for the third time informing them about the treatment of their polling agents. It has asked the electoral authority to take action against those involved in the issue.

“The presiding officer has stopped Jamaat-e-Islami’s polling agents in UC-13 New Karachi polling station number 3. They have been present outside the polling station since 7am,” the party’s spokesperson said.

The party, in its letter, stated that the presiding officer and the police prevented our agents from entering the polling stations.

Sindh's 292 polling stations 'highly sensitive'

A total of 292 polling stations in the province have been declared highly sensitive from the security point of view.

During a recent meeting, Sindh Chief Secretary Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput asked the officials concerned to ensure the installation of closed-circuit television cameras for electronic surveillance of such polling stations to ensure security on the polling day.

He also ordered ensuring water supply, electricity and other necessary facilities at the polling stations.

A press release issued by the ECP said all the presiding officers had been asked to do their best to ensure peaceful and fair conduct of the polls. All the polling agents of the contesting candidates would get form 11 and form 12 on a timely basis after the completion of the polling process for maintaining transparency, the statement read.

The ECP said that all 168 polling stations in seven districts of Karachi had been declared highly sensitive. Over 7,000 police personnel would perform duties to maintain law and order during polling in the city.

The provincial election commissioner has asked the Sindh chief secretary and inspector general of police to make sure that polling was held in a peaceful and fair manner.

The provincial election commissioner also warned that any official showing negligence or found involved in dereliction of duties with regard to peaceful and transparent conduct of the by-polls would be sternly taken to task.

The ECP said that a central control room and monitoring cell had been established in Islamabad for three days to monitor the by-polls in Sindh.

Anyone having a complaint regarding the polling process could contact the control room via contact numbers 051-9204403, 051-9210838 and 051-9204402, fax number 051-9204404 and email address [email protected].

38 seats in 17 districts

Hyderabad: The by-elections would be held in 17 districts of the four divisions for a total number of 38 seats of chairmen and vice-chairmen, district council and general members.

The ECP has established 147 polling stations in the 17 districts for the by-polls where personnel of the Sindh police would perform security duties.

Ballot boxes and other requisite materials were delivered from the ECP offices to the polling stations on Saturday.

In the Hyderabad division, the by-elections would be held for:

  • One seat of the district council of Matiari, 
  • One general member seat in Tando Allahyar, 
  • Five chairmen and vice-chairmen of union committees in Hyderabad district, 
  • Five general member seats in Hyderabad district, 
  • One general member seat in Jamshoro, 
  • Two chairmen and vice-chairmen seats in Dadu, 
  • One general member seat in Dadu, 
  • Two general member seats in Badin, 
  • Two chairmen and vice-chairmen seats in Thatta, 
  • One general member seat in Thatta, 
  • One seat of chairman and vice-chairman in Sujawal, and 
  • General member seat in Sujawal

Most of the by-elections in the Hyderabad division would be held in Hyderabad district where a total of 50 candidates are in the fray and more than 45,000 voters will exercise their right to vote in the 10 constituencies.

All 37 polling stations in the district have been declared highly sensitive, where the ECP has also installed CCTV cameras.

In the Sukkur division, voters will exercise their right to vote to elect one chairman and vice chairman and one general member in Sukkur district, one union committee chairman and vice chairman and one general member in Ghotki district and two general members in Khairpur district

In the Nawabshah division, preparations have been completed for by-polls on one seat of chairman and vice-chairman of union council in Naushahro Feroz, one seat of general member in Shaheed Benazirabad and one seat of general member in Sanghar.

In the Larkana division, by-elections would be held for one general member each in Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Kashmore districts.

Sindh Election Commissioner visits polling stations

Meanwhile, the provincial Election Commissioner Sindh Ejaz Anwar Chohan visited UC 6 in North Nazimabad and said that polling was now being held in a peaceful atmosphere everywhere.

“The atmosphere was disturbed at the polling station in Rasheedabad, but now everything is normal,” he said.

The provincial commissioner said that action would be taken against those using mobile phones at polling stations.

He said that all political parties were cooperating with the ECP and that JI’s complaints had been addressed.

The ECP official in Sindh also informed about issuing forms 11 and 12 to all presiding officers.

Chohan added that the commission would investigate if a complaint was received regarding a candidate.

Speaking with Geo News, the ECP official said that he went to district west and found the arrangements to be “good”.

“Polling stations in district west have all the basic facilities. The IG has also increased the police force yesterday,” he said, adding that the police personnel are now nearly 8,000 which were earlier 7,000.

Chohan added that a couple of incidents have taken place and action will be taken against those involved.

‘We won’t accept the fake result’

JI’s Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said he had received information regarding boxes being changed at polling stations.

He also claimed that the police were in cahoots with the PPP-led government in Sindh because they know that people had voted for JI.

Addressing Chohan, Naeem said that he should restore his reputation.

“We will appreciate if you do good work,” he said.

The politician added that everyone was aware of the city’s trend and his party won’t allow a takeover of its mandate. He criticised the signatures being done on form 11 and 12.

“We will not accept the fake result. We will accept whatever the result actually is,” Naeem said, adding that the incumbent government did not get votes which was why they resorted to such preparations.

Sindh Member Provincial Assembly Abdur Rasheed staged a protest in Bihar Colony.

“I was [verbally] abused at the gate when I came out of the polling station. I had gone inside the polling station after showing my card and handing over my mobile phone to the officials,” he said.

Meanwhile, the polling was stopped at polling station numbers 1, 3, 5, and 6 of Hyderabad’s UC 119 due to an incident of ballot paper snatching, the ECP spokesperson said.

He said that the Election Commission had sought a report from the concerned returning officer, and passed the directives to take strict action against the elements involved in the matter.