Polls finally take place in Karachi and Hyderabad after two-and-a-half-year delay
KARACHI/ ISLAMABAD: Voting for the much-awaited local government (LG) elections in Karachi and Hyderabad is underway. Voting started at 8 am and will continue till 5 pm.
This is the second phase of Sindh LG elections being held in seven districts of Karachi and nine districts of Hyderabad division, with over 3.4 million people exercising their right to vote to elect their local governments.
The polls are finally taking place after several delays, postponements and uncertainty for one reason or another over a span of two and a half years. However, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), which is one of the most popular parties in the two cities, boycotted the elections as their demand to hold the LG polls on the new electoral rolls was not met.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Chairman Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman appreciated the law enforcement agencies for maintaining peace in Karachi during the elections.
Speaking to the media after casting his vote, Rehman claimed that some people burnt the camps in some places, however, voters are still reaching their polling stations. “No untoward incident has been reported from Central and Eastern [regions],” he added.
He claimed that the people want to be elected as a member of the KE as mayor.
Talking about the MQM-P’s decision to boycott the elections, the JI president said the party has run away from the polls.
“Polls are broken”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar claimed that the polling staff has not reached some of the polling stations.
He claimed that attempts are being made to spoil the polls.
The competent authorities ensured the presence of electoral materials and personnel in all polling stations until the start of voting. However, voter turnout remained low due to the cold weather in the morning.
During today’s election, the assistant president will issue two ballots—green and blue—for the president and vice president of the union council and the department’s general board of union members.
Voting is being held in 246 union committees in seven districts of Karachi (Central, West, East, South, Korangi, Keamari and Malir).
About 2,551 candidates are contesting the polls in Hyderabad, 1,436 in Dadu, 839 in Jamshoro, 781 in Tando Allahyar, 715 in Matiari and 452 candidates in Tando Muhammad Khan.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) spokesperson, around 8,706 polling stations have been set up for the local polls with 1,204 for men and 1,170 for women.
According to the spokesman, the 389 are makeshift polling stations.
PPP and PTI leaders voted
Meanwhile, Sindh Labor Minister Saeed Ghani and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Parliamentary Party leader Khurrum Sher Zaman voted in UC 8 and South UC 12 District, respectively.
Zaman, while addressing media persons, said that the people of Karachi will decide their future for the next four years today.
Slamming the MQM-P, the PTI leader said the party – whose leader held the mayor’s office for four years – boycotted the elections.
ECP expels PTI’s Naqvi from polling station
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken cognizance of the violation of election rules by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi and ordered his expulsion from the polling station concerned.
A video of Naqvi unsealing a ballot box in the middle of voting in an attempt to influence the election process in Karachi went viral.
According to details, the incident took place in UC ward 4 polling station of Soldier Bazar area of the city.
Reacting to the issue, the PPP wrote a letter to the ECP to file a complaint against Naqvi for violating election rules.
PPP leader Taj Haider said the video of the incident shows Naqvi opening the ballot box. He urged the ECP for immediate notice and action against the PTI leader.
The Election Commission said the ballot box seals were broken in union council 2 of Tehsil Jinnah municipal committee.
This is an illegal act and a violation of the ECP’s code of conduct, the electoral body said.
Meanwhile, police and ranger personnel have been deployed in all the polling stations to ensure security.
On Saturday, Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja said that the Election Commission, polling staff and all law enforcement agencies will definitely live up to the trust of the people of Karachi and Hyderabad.
Apart from the police and Rangers, Border Constabulary (FC) personnel are also deployed outside the highly sensitive and sensitive polling station to ensure the smooth conduct of the said elections.
As many as 20 FC platoons have been provided to the Sindh Police to help ensure security during the LG elections in Karachi and Hyderabad, FC commander Salahuddin Mehsud told Geo News.
“More than 800 people have been given to Sindh as per the instructions of the federal government,” Mehsud said.
According to the provincial police spokesperson, more than 43,605 officials and law enforcement personnel are performing their duties under the security plan worked out by the Sindh government.
As many as 26,050 officers and staff have been deployed on polling duties in 4,997 polling stations in Karachi alone in view of security concerns and perceived threats regarding the second phase of local government elections.
The spokesman informed that 200 FC and 500 security guards have been deployed for election duty.
All possible measures are being taken to protect the lives and property of citizens, the spokesman said.
More than 43,605 policemen in Karachi are performing security duties on the polling day, of which 17,588 have been deployed in the eastern zone. Meanwhile, 6,533, 4,837 and 6,218 comprising officers, staff and personnel have been deployed in Eastern Region, Malir and Korangi respectively.
The spokesman added that 11,627, 2,155, 4558 and 4914 personnel have been stationed in the Southern Zone, South Region, Central Region and Keamari, respectively.
The deployment of officers, staff and personnel in the Western Zone, Central Region and Western Region totaled 14,390, 9,672 and 4,718, respectively.
About 3,800 traffic police officers have also fulfilled their duties. They have been deployed to assist the administration at polling stations.
Control room in operation
The ECP has set up a central control room for three days at the Election Commission Secretariat, Islamabad to oversee the LG polls.
So far 16 complaints have been registered in the control room, the ECP spokesperson said. He said 13 of the 16 complaints had been investigated.
MQM-P refuses to accept LG polls result
The MQM-P announced the boycott of the LG polls on Saturday night after day-long consultations on the demand failed with the provincial government, which itself made last-ditch efforts earlier in the day to further delay the LG polls in Karachi and Hyderabad citing security concerns.
However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did not budge from the Sindh government’s letter seeking a postponement and decided to hold the polls as per schedule.
Sindh’s request to postpone the polls was for the second time in as many days to appease the MQM-P, which has warned it will quit the coalition government at the Center if its grievances over delimitation and electoral rolls are not addressed before the polls.
MQM-P editor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui lamented that the ECP was created to conduct elections in a transparent manner but failed to play its constitutional role by making new delimitations. He said the ECP was going to conduct elections in fake constituencies, which “the people of Karachi would not accept the elections”.
“In an election in which the electoral rolls are incorrect, the constituencies are not corrected, how can we accept the results of the polls? The ECP has failed to properly manage the electoral rolls and fix the delimitations,” he said, stating that his party refuses to accept the result of the LG polls.