Rigging allegations pile up across Sindh

Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Mirza family, Jalal Mehmood Shah, others reject results

Z Ali July 28, 2018
Among other leaders in Sindh Fehmida Mirza also alleged that elections were rigged. PHOTO: FILE

HYDERABAD: Several election candidates have hurled allegations of rigging in the results of the general elections held on July 25 with many others seeking a vote recount from the relevant returning officers.

Those who claim their defeat was a result of rigging include former federal minister and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) candidate for NA-212 Naushero Feroz Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi. Addressing a press conference in his home district on Friday, he pointed out a range of alleged rigging methods that were applied to ensure his defeat in the constituency.

Jatoi claimed that his polling agents were asked to leave polling stations when the vote count started. "We have received polling results on Form 45 only from 53 polling stations out of 332 in NA-212," he said.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Zulfiqar Ali Behan has unofficially secured the seat in a historic win by obtaining around 6,000 votes more than Jatoi. "Thousands of votes which were cast for us were double stamped and rejected in the count," he alleged.

He also cited the result of a polling station where his polling agent counted 333 votes for him but the official results showed zero vote. Jatoi claimed that despite a low turnout, the official result showed 55% of the voters had polled their votes in the constituency. The GDA candidate told the media that the alliance's leadership will meet in Karachi on July 30 to decide on a mutual response to the rigging. The PPP bagged all the NA and three PS constituencies in a historic win from the district.

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Former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza, who has been elected MNA from NA-230 in Badin district for the fifth consecutive time, alleged that 'khalai makhlooq' helped the PPP win from other constituencies of Badin. "The ROs cast fake ballots in their offices and changed the original votes. The ROs and DROs rejected the people's mandate. We reject their result," she said, while addressing a press conference in Badin. Fehmida told the media that she would take up the issue with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The Mirza family, which contested on the GDA's platform in Badin, returned successful on one NA and one PS seat, which was won by Fehmida's son Hasnain Mirza. However, her husband Zulfiqar Mirza, another son Hassam Mirza and other GDA candidates were defeated on one NA and four PS seats in Badin.

In Tando Muhammad Khan district, GDA's respective candidates in NA-228 and PS-68, Mir Ali Nawaz Talpur and Mir Ali Hyder Talpur, blamed the polling staff for rigging the election results. The claimed to have evidence of rigging and demanded a vote recount in the presence of the army.

"The PPP has won this seat through fake vote count," claimed Haji Khair Muhammad Khokhar, who contested from PS-61 as the alliance's candidate. "What else can be a bigger proof of rigging that the Form 45 was given to the polling agents without being stamped and signed."

Khokhar also maintained while talking to the media in Tando Allahyar district that his polling agents were forced to leave polling stations before the vote count started. He deplored that the returning officer rejected his application for the vote recount.

Sindh United Party leader Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, who was defeated on one NA and one PS seat in Jamshoro district, warned of protests across the province. "I feel sad over the response of the judiciary. Despite complaints, no action has been taken," said Shah at a press conference.

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Former PPP MPA Dr Sikandar Shoro, who contested in the independent capacity from Jamshoro, claimed that according to the calculation from results collected through his polling agents, he had won from PS-82. "The presiding officers and the polling staff rigged the results," he alleged.

In Hyderabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's NA-225 candidate Khawand Bux Jahejo, NA-226's Jamshed Ali Shaikh, NA-227's Muhammad Hakim and PS-67's Umaid Ali Junejo also made allegations of rigging in the vote count. They submitted applications to the ROs concerned for recounting. Shaikh's application was approved, while Hakim's was rejected. The ROs will take up the other two applications on Saturday.

The head of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan-Noorani, Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair, who was a candidate from NA-227, also filed application for the recount.

Similar complaints of rigging and vote recount emerged from several other districts of Sindh as well.

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