The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) faced a heap of reproach for its decision to disqualify Syeda Wahida Shah Bukhari whose supporters in Tando Muhammad Khan held a strike on Thursday.
The protestors, including the Pakistan Peoples Party’s local ladies wing, burnt effigies of the ECP officials who supported her disqualification.
Shah has been barred from contesting in the elections for two years while her recent victory in the by-polls of February 25 has also been struck off by the ECP. The verdict came less than two weeks after Shah was caught on camera assaulting the polling staff during the by-elections in PS-52 constituency of the Sindh Assembly in Tando Muhammad Khan. Later, Shah held a press conference along with the presiding officer who was slapped and offered an apology.
The decision by ECP, which initially appeared to be soft-pedaling on the issue, stirred up protests by the people of Shah’s hometown. “It is an injustice to over 31,000 people who voted for her in the elections,” declared the PPP’s district president, Haji Ameen Lakho.
Lakho complained of what he described as ‘selectivity’ on part of the ECP and the Supreme Court, saying they have not taken action against the incidents of violence which occurred in the other provinces during the by-elections. “We consider the ECP’s decision to be based on prejudice and find it an insult to the voters,” he said. The decision was opposed by the Sindh ECP member Justice (retd) Muhammad Roshan Essani and the chief election commissioner, Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza.
Lakho also blamed the media for fussing over the issue and conducting the usual ‘PPP trial’. He, however, did not say whether the party or Shah will challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.
The ladies wing, led by its local leader Sakina Khaskheli, blocked the Hyderabad-Badin road for the second time since the announcement of the decision on Wednesday. “The ECP has victimised an elected woman representative on the eve of the International Women’s Day,” protested the supporters.
“She has been forgiven by the women who were slapped because of a misunderstanding. The Islamic laws allow forgiveness of even people charged with murder if they are forgiven by the affected family,” said Khaskheli. The supporters appealed to the Supreme Court to restore Shah as their elected representative.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2012.