KARACHI: Leaders of politico-religious parties that contested the elections in Karachi on Wednesday have rejected the claims of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding fairness of the polls.
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Sindh Vice-President Qari Muhammad Usman said the non-provision of results to candidates on the second day even in a city like Karachi raised eyebrows. He was talking to party leaders at his office.
According to Usman, it was a good omen that the elections were held peacefully but it was a matter of concern that many people had to return homes without having their votes cast due to abnormally slow polling process.
The MMA leader claimed that it happened for the first time that polling agents were not provided results even after the passage of nine hours after the voting time was over. He went on to allege that polling agents were also sent outside polling booths and they were provided incomplete result after that.
The claims of fair elections are merely a fictitious tale, Usman said, adding that the 2018 elections would be called a humiliation of electorate. “Imposing a specific party on the country will be very dangerous.”
The ECP should answer why the announcement of results was delayed even on the second day despite a low turnout, Usman said.
The Sindh chief of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Mufti Ghulam Ghous Baghdadi, also joined the parade of rigging allegations. According to him, the TLP’s mandate of eight NA and 16 PS seats was stolen overnight. He called the results artificial.
“The people of Karachi would not accept the election results” Baghdadi said, adding that the party’s central executive committee was discussing the matter in Lahore under the leadership of Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi after which the future course of action would be announced.
The TLP leader held a meeting of the party candidates at Rizvi House in Karsaz. The candidates informed him about irregularities and mistreatment meted out to the party’s polling agents during the vote count.
According to Baghdadi, people were frustrated over the superficial results. Mockery of the voters’ mandate would disillusion the people from politics of ballot and lead them to politics of bullet, he said.
“Pakistan cannot withstand violent politics,” the TLP Sindh chief claimed. “We complied with all laws and brought our voters to the polling stations. However, the mandate of the people was trashed to please the world powers.”
After the meeting, Baghdadi also delivered a short speech outside Rizvi House where a large number of TLP supporters had gathered. He announced that the party would chalk out a plan for future after consultations of central committee. He also appealed to the party workers to exercise restraint and not to resort to violence.
According to the unofficial results, the TLP gave tough time to its opponents in most of the national and provincial constituencies in Karachi. However, the MMA, despite being an alliance of multiple religious parties, failed to garner voters’ support.
Two provincial assembly seats, PS-115 and PS-107 of District West and Lyari – until the filing of this story – seemed to be going to the TLP, whereas, one PS seat of Lyari was bagged by the MMA.
From PS-108, MMA’s Abdul Rasheed received 16,821 votes, while from PS-115 and PS-107, the TLP received 26,248 and 21,596 votes respectively.
None of the TLP and MMA candidate could win any National Assembly seat. In NA-245 where the Barelvi vote was expected to be a spoiler, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Amir Liaqat Hussain clinched the seat.
Both the PTI and TLP candidates were aggressively canvassing for Barelvi votes in NA-245, due to which the Barelvi vote bank was expected to play a crucial role in its result. Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Farooq Sattar was also a strong contender in the constituency. He received 35,247 votes and came second while the TLP candidate stood third after receiving 20,580 votes.
ATLP leader, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the NA 245 was their favorite constituency. “Patel Para in this constituency was our stronghold,” he said, adding that had Sattar won and they were defeated by 10,000 to 15,000 votes, they would accept the defeat. “But Hussain’s victory is not only surprising but indigestible,” he said.