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July 10, 2018

Fearing plans afoot to rig polls, Sattar demands transparency

Karachi

July 10, 2018

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar has claimed that his party’s flags and banners are being removed, and he expressed fear that the upcoming general elections may be rigged.

Dr Sattar also claimed that the match has already been fixed as part of a conspiracy and that the results of the July 25 polls can be changed. He demanded of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government to ensure fair and transparent polls.

The MQM-P leader visited the city courts on Monday for the proceedings of two of the cases against him. He said the hearing of the cases was adjourned until July 30. The court had directed the prosecution to provide copies of the two cases registered at the New Town and Soldier Bazaar police stations. Sattar had obtained bail in these cases pertaining to charges of disrupting law and order and of the illegal use of loudspeaker.

After the court’s proceedings, he talked with journalists outside the courtroom and told them that if the ECP and the interim set-up do not ensure transparent elections, his party will boycott the polls. He claimed that the elections can also be rigged on the pretext of low turnout.

He pointed out that billions of rupees have been spent on advertisements by some political parties, but his is a party of poor people so it is not possible for him to follow the trends set by other parties. He said a seat adjustment formula can be applied in the general elections.

He said his party has already prepared banners to boycott the elections but it will not put them up unless they have concrete proofs of poll-rigging. He added that if his party notices something negative, it will exercise its right to boycott the elections.

Sattar and many others leaders are accused of disrupting law and order and violating the Loudspeaker Act by staging a protest rally against the arrests of the then MQM workers in 2015.

The court of the relevant judicial magistrate had issued bailable arrest warrants for Sattar and others, resulting in the ECP rejecting the MQM-P leader’s nomination papers. However, he obtained bail in the two cases to be eligible for contesting the elections.

Addressing a press conference on July 7, Sattar had claimed that the recently conducted population census in Karachi and Hyderabad was fraudulent, alleging that efforts were being made to keep the residents of Karachi from voting in the upcoming General Election 2018.

He had said that the authorities continued to arrest his party’s workers, and raids were yet to stop. “We are concerned about the atmosphere of fear that has been created for [our] workers,” he stated. “We want to know why these unjustified arrests are being made. Why are raids being contacted?”

The MQM-P leader, who recently set aside differences with the Bahadurabad group to contest elections under the same election symbol of kite, alleged that the part workers and voters were unable to “freely participate” in the election process. “Karachi’s population was listed as less than half of the actual number in the census result,” he complained. “The arrests of our workers are indicators of pre-poll rigging.”

Sattar further said that it seemed like a few political parties were “favourites”. “You will only see banners of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other parties in Karachi. Our banners have been removed from different parts of the city,” he said.