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Karachi LG polls: PPP leads local body elections as JI trails behind

PTI suffers setback in Karachi as Khurram Sher Zaman loses to PPP candidate

By Kamran Razi & Kashif Mushtaq & Kiran Khan & Rana Javaid & Tariq Abul Hasan & Waqas Alam Angaria
January 16, 2023

KARACHI/HYDERABAD/ISLAMABAD: As results from across the polling stations in Karachi were compiled Monday night, they showed that the "Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is leading the local government elections, while the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is right behind".

The delay in the release of results — despite the polling being closed at 5pm on Sunday — had prompted rigging allegations from the opposition parties — Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) claimed that the results were compiled in a transparent manner, while the PPP-led government also denied its involvement in rigging the polls.

Out of the 235 union committees (UCs) up for grabs, PPP leads with victories on 93 UCs, JI has secured second place with 86, PTI 40, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) seven, JUI-F and independent three, while the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) two.

The voting which kicked off at 8am on Sunday — continued uninterrupted, with reports of sporadic clashes — ended at 5pm on the same day, but the results were not released, prompting rigging claims.

JI expresses reservations

In response to the results, JI Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman told Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada that the numbers were "fudged" and a majority was converted into a minority.

"I urge the election commission and PPP to not rig the polls. We were not provided forms 11 and 12. We were winning almost 100 UCs and on the other hand, PPP was just ahead in 70-75 UCs," he said.

Rehman added that he has called his party's meeting after going through the results and claimed that the party's outcome was changed — the winner was forced into second place.

"If they accept that we are the number 1 party, then we will talk with them [PPP]. Given the results of these polls, we are in no mood to speak to the PPP," the JI leader said, vowing to knock on every door possible for overturning the results.

'Strict monitoring'

Provincial Election Commissioner Aijaz Anwar Chohan has rubbished the rigging allegations in the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions due to delay in results, saying that the ECP had a "strict monitoring" mechanism to ensure free and fair elections.

Speaking to the media in the metropolis, Chohan said that holding LG polls is a big exercise and has its own challenges. However, the electoral body fulfilled its duty efficiently, he said.

The provincial election commissioner said that the preparation of Form 11 was the first thing to be done after the conclusion of polling on Sunday. He explained the entire process of preparing results, saying that one returning officer (RO) has to make results of five to six union councils (UC).

He said that there are around 25 constituencies in a UC and the RO has to make Form 11 and 12 for each of the constituencies.

Chohan further stated that a presiding officer has to make five separate forms for four categories for a single polling station, and then these forms are sent to the ROs.

"All 11 and 12 forms were handed over to the ROs in Karachi by 11am today," he said.

Chohan went on to say that there were 4,990 polling stations in Karachi and it makes almost 10,000 forms if we do the calculation.

Chohan said that the preparation of appendix A — unofficial results — by the ROs was underway and the results will be finalised by this evening.

Responding to the claims of rigging, Chohan clarified that ECP had a very strict monitoring mechanism and he can confidently say that no official was involved in rigging.

However, he said strict legal action will be taken if any official was found involved in rigging

He asked the political parties to trust that the "ECP is aware of its constitutional responsibility and is serious in holding free and fair elections".

Top PTI Karachi leader defeated, PPP in pole position in Hyderabad

For the first time in history, PPP is in a position to elect its mayor in Hyderabad while the party is also leading in Karachi’s local government elections.

The finalisation of the results for the second phase of Sindh's local bodies elections took longer than usual, with major political parties viewing the delay with suspicion and claiming the results were being engineered.

As per the latest updates, the results of Karachi's 89 union committees (UCs) out of 246 have been released so far.

PPP emerged victorious on 46 UCs, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) has secured 22, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) 14, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) three, Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F) two, Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) claimed victory in two UCs, while an independent candidate has one won seat.

Meanwhile, the loss of PTI's Khurram Sher Zaman — who was considered the party’s candidate for the top slot of the mayor — to PPP’s Najmi Alam in Saddar gave the party a major setback in the grass-root level elections.

The voting kicked off at 8am and continued uninterrupted, with reports of sporadic clashes. However, several confrontations were also reported even after the polling process ended.

The parties seemingly did not respond strongly to the clashes, however, later on, claims were made that the Sindh government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were involved in delaying the release of results.

As hundreds of thousands of people headed to vote in a bid to elect their local representatives, many political parties had also earlier complained and demanded the ECP to increase the polling time as the process began late at some of the stations — which was accepted in some polling stations.

At first, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) — an ally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) alleged that the Sindh government had used delaying tactics by not ensuring that the polling officers reach the stations on time.

"Everything has been pre-decided and they have just staged the elections for a show," JUI-F's Karachi leader Qari Usman alleged while speaking to reporters in the metropolis.

When the day began to pass and results stopped coming in, JI Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman alleged that rigging was underway in the metropolis as he castigated both — the ECP and Sindh government.

Analysts said that despite the process of elections being the responsibility of the election commission, it would raise questions if the PPP wins the polls in Karachi since it is the ruling party.

Furious JI

In response to the delay, JI's Karachi Rehman directed the public to encircle polling stations across the city as he made claims of rigging in the process.

Addressing a presser at the Idarah Noor-e-Haq, JI’s mayoral candidate said that it is the party's constitutional, democratic, and legal right to be provided numbers of their election results.

However, the JI's senior leader said Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have issued clear orders to provide Forms 11 and 12, which are not being followed.

The JI leader stressed that while he would congratulate successful candidates in the local body polls and encourage those who have lost, the party won’t allow hijacking people’s mandate.

Sindh and ECP's defence

While talking to Geo News, Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan said that the results are taking time as each returning officer has five UCs and results are being manually compiled as the RTS system wasn't used in the elections.

The official said that the results from all polling stations are reaching the offices of the ROs. He added the process is tedious and complicated as it takes time to develop a UC's result.

The election commissioner, explaining the process, said that every UC has four wards and an average of 20 polling stations. The result of a UC is not complete even if results from a single polling station are not received.

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said JI and Rehman's politics revolves around protests and sit-ins — explaining the party's recent protests against the provincial administration.

"When the results started trickling in, the losers began their bid to escape," the Sindh government spokesperson told Geo News via telephone.

"Till yesterday, Jamaat-e-Islami was calling on [the ECP and the government] to hold elections, but now, when the results are coming in, the party's now talking about protests," he said.

Later in a statement, Wahab also expressed concerns over the delay in the release of the forms and asked the election commission to ensure that they are issued on time. A similar concern was raised by PPP leader Saeed Ghani.

In a letter after the claims emerged, ECP Deputy Director Sajjad Khattak directed the district returning officers (DROs) to ensure that the complaints of the parties are addressed.

"I am directed to say that this office has received various complaints from different political parties and candidates that the presiding officers are not giving copies of Form 11 and Form 12 to their polling agents present at polling stations," the letter said.

The deputy director asked the DROs to direct all the presiding officers under their jurisdiction through their concerned returning officers to ensure that the copies of the forms are accordingly handed over to all the polling agents present at the polling station.

Polling

Around 8,706 polling stations were set up for the local body polls with 1,204 for males and 1,170 for females in the two divisions — Karachi and Hyderabad. Out of the total polling station, over 8,000 were declared as “sensitive” or “highly sensitive.”

It is pertinent to mention here that 830 candidates — seven in Karachi and 823 in Hyderabad — have been elected unopposed in the two divisions.

A voter casting her vote at a polling station for the local body election in Hyderabad on January 15, 2023. — INP
A voter casting her vote at a polling station for the local body election in Hyderabad on January 15, 2023. — INP

In Hyderabad, 6,774 candidates contested for 1,675 seats of chairmen, vice chairmen of union councils/union committees, and the general wards.

While in Karachi, 9058 candidates are in the race for 246 seats of chairman, vice chairman, and general member.