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JI and MQM-P boycott polls
 
 
M. Waqar Bhatti
Sunday, May 12, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

Karachi

 

The election for the NA-255 Landhi-Korangi was hit by extreme irregularities and widespread rigging at most of the constituency’s polling stations.

 

The election staffs were unable to reach some polling stations on time and at others, ballot boxes, their seals, stamps and stationary were not delivered, delaying the voting process.

 

At many stations, the polling agents of political parties were forced to leave the premises and voters were openly threatened.

 

The candidates of two political parties, Abdul Jamil Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Chairman Afaq Ahmed, announced that they were boycotting polls in the constituency and withdrawing their polling agents from the stations.

 

The extent of irregularities can be gauged from the fact that at some polling stations, empty cardboard cartons were used as ballot boxes, which the election commission was unable to deliver.

 

These polling stations included the KTS School in Korangi No 6. When the polling agents objected, the presiding officer explained that the election staff had not been provided with ballot boxes and that was why cardboard boxes were being used. At the Government APWA School in Korangi No. 5, polling could not start until noon because the election staff had not received stamps and ballot boxes.

 

Violations of rules

 

All the election commission’s instructions were violated in the constituency as political activists were present inside polling stations and intimidating voters.

 

Cell phones were openly used within polling booths while cars and motorcycles were parked inside the stations.

 

The polling agents of the JI and MQM-P were forced to leave the stations.

 

MQM-P Chairman Afaq Ahmed said his party’s polling agents including women were tortured and not allowed inside the stations.

 

“Extreme rigging took place during the polls and voters’ right to elect their candidates was snatched, forcing us to boycott the elections,” Ahmed told reporters at his residence.

 

The JI candidate for NA-255 also levelled allegations of widespread rigging at almost all polling stations in the constituency. He said at many stations, polling started late while at some, many votes had been cast by 10am.

 

“JI’s polling agents were evicted from the stations and Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists forced people to cast votes in favour of their candidates.”

 

The JI and MQM-P candidates said they had told the election commission and the law enforcement agencies about the difficulties they had faced and because of the authorities’ unresponsiveness, they had decided to boycott polls.