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Thursday July 25, 2024

MQM-P reiterates call for new delimitation ahead of Sunday LG polls

Demand comes following ECP's final decision to conduct elections in Karachi, Hyderabad on January 15

By Arshad Yousafzai & Web Desk
January 13, 2023
Leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) address a press conference in Karachi on January 13, 2022. — Screengrab via YouTube/HumNews
Leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) address a press conference in Karachi on January 13, 2022. — Screengrab via YouTube/HumNews

Leaders of the 'rebranded' Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Friday reiterated its call for new delimitation before holding the local body polls in Karachi and Hyderabad. The much-awaited LB elections are scheduled to be held on January 15 (Sunday).

"If despite our concerns, the elections do take place, then we will not boycott them. However, we will not accept the results of the elections," MQM-P spokesperson Ahsan Ghauri told Geo.tv.

The announcement by the Karachi-based party — which expanded its pool of members after merger with Syed Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and its estranged leader Dr Farooq Sattar — came hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to hold the local government elections in the two cities as per the schedule and rejected the Sindh government's request of postponing the polls, yet again.

Earlier today, the ECP decided to stick to completing the second phase of the polls in the province during a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja at its headquarters in Islamabad.

The second round of LG elections was scheduled to take place on July 24 last year, but Sindh's administration had excused itself from holding the polls over the lack of security and police presence due to flooding in the province. The polls were then scheduled for August 28 and October 23 but were delayed back then as well.

Addressing a press conference alongside MQM-P leaders, Barrister Farogh Naseem accused the Sindh government of unfairness while determining the constituencies for the local government polls.

“Under Sindh Local Government Act Section 10 Subsection 1, the provincial government had determined the constituencies for the LG polls, but the constituencies had a disproportional population,” he added.

The constituencies where the MQM-P has vote banks consist of 90,000 people and the others have just 20,000 population, he claimed, adding that it was "injustice" with the populace.

Through the delimitations, the MQM-P vote bank has been downsized by three times, he said and termed it “pre-poll rigging”.

Raising questions over the size of population in different constituencies, Naseem further said that as per the principle the variation of population in the constituencies could not be more than +-10%.

The ECP decided to hold LG polls in Karachi and Hyderabad by using the “proviso of Section 9” of the constitution, he said and argued that the section is not applicable in the case as the provincial government had issued the orders under Section 10 (1).

“Section 9 is not applicable for an order issued under Section 10(1),” he added.

The ECP has no jurisdiction in Section 10 (1), the former law minister added.

Terming the election authority’s order “void”, Naseem said the LB polls would not have legal status.

Speaking at the occasion, MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari said he doubted the transparency of elections following the discrepancies within constituencies.

“It is visible in the constituencies that the population of Nazimabad, Korangi, and Orangi Town is more compared to the seats. In some areas, the population is less and the seats are more. How will the elections be transparent?” Sabzwari asked, expressing reservations.

In an apparent reference to the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), he also questioned people placing banners across the city about their absence when 'injustice was being meted out" to Karachi and Hyderabad.

“There was no census in the city for the last 20 years. When joining the [Pakistan Democratic Movement] PDM’s government, the first point raised was regarding the census,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sattar said the ECP set aside the decision of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and the cabinet. “Has the Election Commission become more reliable than the Supreme Court?” he said raising questions on the authority ECP possesses.

The senior member of the newly-rebranded party said that today’s press conference is neither an insult to the court nor the election commissioner.

“When the Sindh government is admitting a mistake in the delimitation of constituencies, then isn’t the Election Commission’s action contempt of court,” he added.