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PPP wins Sanghar, Karachi by-polls, PDM Pishin

Top Story

February 17, 2021

KARACHI: The PPP has retained both its provincial assembly seats in Karachi and Sanghar contested in Tuesday’s by-polls. Similarly, another leader of the opposition PDM’s candidate Syed Azizullah Agha has won the PB-20 Pishin, Balochistan, by-election, according to unofficial results.

According to unofficial results announced by the Election Commission, PPP’s Yousaf Baloch from PS-88 Malir, Karachi, and PPP’s Jam Shabeer Ali from PS-43, Sanghar, won the by-polls respectively.

By 12am, the vote count was still underway and sources put different numbers for the contenders of the Malir by-polls. According to one group of sources, PPP’s Yousaf Baloch secured 22,000, with PTI’s Syed Kashif Ali tailing behind with 5,000 votes, TLP with 4,000 and MQM managed nearly 2,000 votes.

In Malir, Karachi, the by-poll was marred by incidents of violence, while the opposition leader of Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh was arrested for violating the orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) during the voting process, sparking outrage among the federal government’s leading party.

At least 16 independent candidates were also contesting the by-polls, besides PPP’s Muhammad Yousuf Baloch, PTI’s Jansher Junejo, MQM-Pakistan’s Sajid Ahmed, and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s Syed Kashif Ali. The PS-88 had fell vacant in June 2020 after the death of provincial minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch due to the novel coronavirus.

The situation remained tense in various localities falling in the PS-88, Malir, Karachi, where incidents of violence were reported for which both the PPP and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf blamed each other. The polling began at 8am and continued till 5pm under strict security measures. However, following several incidents of violence, PTI’s key leader and the Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh, was arrested by the police for violating the orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) amid the voting process.

Governor Sindh Imran Ismail strongly condemned Sheikh's arrest. “He is the leader of the opposition and is being treated like a criminal. Is it a crime to contest elections in Sindh?” he tweeted on Tuesday.

A video statement of Sheikh was released following his arrest; he said that he had been informed of his arrest by SSP Malir. "As Leader of the Opposition, I should have been given security but instead that was withdrawn on the orders of Zardari and Bilawal," Sheikh claimed. PTI’s Haleem Adil Sheikh claimed that he was not present in the constituency when his workers were attacked. "When I got there, I too was attacked," he alleged, adding that his guards resorted to aerial firing to disperse the attackers.

Expressing their anger over Sheikh's arrest, a group of federal ministers, PTI MNAs and MPAs staged a sit-in outside the Sindh Chief Minister's House. Federal Maritime Minister Ali Zaidi and MPs Faisal Vawda, Alamgir Khan, Aamir Liaquat and MPAs Khuram Sherzaman, Jamal Siddiqui, and several others from Karachi participated in the sit-in that continued for over three hours. They raised slogans against Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the Sindh government and termed Sheikh's arrest as part of PPP’s policy to victimize its opponents. Later, announcing to end the sit-in, Zaidi said that the party leaders will devise a strategy by Wednesday. “Without the permission of the Sindh Assembly’s speaker, how can police arrest the opposition leader?” Zaidi asked. He alleged that the PPP has been destroying peace of the city.

In an earlier press conference, the PTI’s Karachi head, Khurram Sherzaman, said that the media has shown how elections in PS-88 were manipulated exposing the PPP’s real face. Condemning Sheikh's arrest, Sherzaman said that the PPP was trying to intimidate the opponents through fake FIRs and bullying and rigged the PS-88 by-polls through SSPs and SHOs. “The PPP workers rigged the polling stations in rural areas, harassed the PTIs’ women workers and held the party’s polling agents hostage. When the rigging started in the rural areas, we went there to take care of our workers,” he claimed. PTI PS-88 candidate Janshir Junejo and other leaders accompanied him during the press conference. He said that the employees of the education department were polling agents in the constituency.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan also alleged that the party was receiving complaints of rigging from various polling stations. “It is unfortunate and the ECP should take notice of it,” said Faisal Sabzwari, an MQM-P central leader, while talking to the media. “We have seen videos in which ballot papers were being stamped.” Expressing concerns over Sheikh's arrest, Sabzwari said that it is understandable why the opposition leader was arrested in an old case.

TLP Karachi president Allama Hussaini Rizvi claimed that with the support of the police, the PPP broke all records of rigging in the by-polls.

In the 2018 general election, PPP’s Murtaza Baloch had won the seat by securing 22,561 votes against 16,386 of the runner-up, Captain (retd) Muhammad Rizwan Khan, who was the PTI’s candidate.

Our correspondent adds from Sukkur: The PPP’s candidate for PS-43, Sanghar, Jam Shabeer Ali won the poll by a wide margin against GDA’s candidate Mushtaq Junejo. According to unofficial results announced by the Election Commission, the PPP’s candidate from Sanghar Jam Shabeer Ali won the by-election by securing 48,032 votes against PTI ally GDA’s Mushtaq Junejo, who managed only 6,922 votes.

Reacting to his defeat, Mushtaq Junejo accused the rival of being fully supported by the Sindh government that utlised the state machinery in the by-poll. Jam Shabeer Ali, on the other hand, dismissed the charges of rigging and said the voters had once again reposed their confidence in the PPP.

In 2018 elections, PPP candidate Jam Madad Ali had secured the provincial assembly seat by securing 44,737 votes against GDA’s candidate Jam Zulfiqar, who managed 28,488 votes. The seat had fallen vacant after the death of PPP’s Jam Madad Ali.

News Desk adds: The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) candidate, Syed Azizullah Agha, won the PB-20 Pishin by-election, according to unofficial results. The JUI-F is a component of the opposition’s PDM grouping. Agha, who enjoyed the support of PDM alliance, secured 8,742 votes, defeating Asmat Tareen of Balochistan Awami Party, who managed 4,876 votes. During the polling, clashes were reported between the supporters of both sides. However, the local deputy commissioner claimed that polling was conducted in a peaceful manner. As many as 800 policemen were deployed in the constituency.