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Wednesday February 08, 2023

PPP leaders visit JI headquarters in bid to win over charged potential ally

January 20, 2023

After initiating formal talks for the formation of local government in Karachi, both the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) are not willing to give up the coveted post of Karachi mayor.

Both the parties have however agreed on waiting for the final results of the polls and decisions on complaints regarding the results of six union committees to be announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan on January 23.

On Thursday, a delegation of the PPP led by Sindh Labour Minister and PPP Karachi President Saeed Ghani visited the Idara Noor-e-Haq, the JI headquarters in Karachi, and assured the JI leadership of resolution of their grievances in connection with rigging allegations in the local government elections in Karachi.

The PPP delegation was welcomed by Karachi JI Emir Hafiz Naeemur Rehman. After their talks, the two sides held a joint press conference, in which the JI leader reiterated his party’s demand for action against those involved in rigging and rectification of results of the local government polls.

He said the JI had strong reservations about the process of counting of votes. He, however, added that the PPP had assured the JI in a positive manner that the latter’s grievances would be addressed.

Rehman said the JI workers faced immense difficulties in obtaining the forms 11 and 12. He added that results that were announced by returning officers did not corroborate figures in the forms 11 and 12.

He alleged that rigging also took place in the process of recounting. The JI leader explained that the party had sent all of its complaints regarding the elections to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). He mentioned an instance where the SHO of the local police station took the presiding officer as well as ballot boxes into his custody.

He said he expected that the PPP leadership would respond to the JI’s reservations, and the two parties had agreed to continue the talks. Ghani congratulated the JI on its victory in the polls and said that the PPP government would try its level best to address and resolve the complaints of the JI. He said he wanted the JI to work with the PPP for the betterment of Karachi.

The coalition of the PPP and JI would be a good omen for the city, he remarked. The PPP leader did not rule out the possibility of the JI mayor, stating that the matter could be discussed. He said the two parties had decided to continue dialogues.

Earlier in the day, Rehman had demanded in a press conference that the ECP take into custody all the ballot boxes in order to prevent post-poll rigging. Returning officers (ROs) had been acting like PPP workers and a majority of them did misconduct and participated in rigging, the JI leader said.

He said the ECP must restrain the ROs from tampering with the record. He also demanded that the recounting process be carried out under the direct supervision of the ECP. Rehman said the JI did not want to disturb the law and order situation, but it would defend its mandate at all costs. He also condemned firing at JI and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers during a protest against ROs. He said that in the UC 1 of New Karachi, the PPP received 261 votes at a polling station as per the form 11, but the RO declared that the party had received 553 votes while the number of votes cast were 457.

In another union council in Chanesar Goth, officials conducted recounting without issuing the form 12 to the contesting parties, Rehman said. Before visiting the JI headquarters, Ghani also spoke to the media about the post-election scenario while attending an exhibition of Pakistani products at a private school in the DHA.

He said Rehman should avoid speaking in an intimidating tone as he himself was a mayoral candidate for Karachi. He said improvement should be witnessed in the affairs of Karachi after the local government polls.

The people of Karachi had rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the polls and given their mandate to the PPP and JI. The PPP leader said the country could not be run on the whims of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. Khan had emerged as a security threat to the country, Ghani added.

He said the PTI had been left with no option but to do politics of agitation in the country. The JI had clinched a surprise victory in the latest local government polls in Karachi, Ghani said. He told journalists that the PPP’s victories were not surprising as its candidates were elected from such areas where the party had traditionally won.

Although the PPP had emerged as the largest party in Karachi in the latest polls, it was still short of the majority required for clinching the city’s mayoral post, Ghani said. Responding to the rigging allegations, he stated that had the Sindh government and PPP committed rigging in the polls, the PPP would have secured a minimum of 125 seats from Karachi to easily elect its mayor.

He also lamented that the JI had resorted to protest in the constituencies where after recounting of votes, its winning candidates lost the polls. The labour minister advised the JI to wait for the ECP’s decision on the rigging complaints as the commission had fixed January 23 to conduct a hearing on the matter.

He said that during the agitation drive in the aftermath of the polls, a woman returning officer came under attack and her car was damaged and driver injured. More than two police personnel sustained injuries when they tried to protect the female election official, Ghani said terming such incidents sorrowful.

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