The elections for the coucilors of various wards of the cantonment boards of Karachi ended peacefully without any major incident, barring few minor altercations among workers of political parties.
Voter turnout was higher than the previous polls held in 2015, but at many places in Clifton and Defence Housing Authority the camps were vacant and very few people came to cast votes. However, there was hustle and bustle of electioneering particularly in DHA Phase I and Phase V, besides Neelum Colony, Gizri, and Hazara Colony saw a substantial turnout of voters.
Voters did not pay any heed to the implementation of Corona SOPs during the polling process in the cantonment board elections on Sunday. Facemasks were not used inside and outside the polling station. Throughout the day, voters kept going inside the polling station without facemasks.
Police and security personnel asked some voters to wear masks when entering polling stations, but masks were not made mandatory at most polling stations. Outside most of the Malir Cantonment Board and Faisal Cantonment Board polling stations, there was a rush of workers all day long at the election camps set up by various political and religious parties. However, only a few workers were wearing facemasks.
MPAs, MNAs issued notices
The deputy returning officers of the Korangi and Faisal cantonment boards had to issue externment orders to throw ministers and assembly members outside the cantt limits.
Korangi Cantonment Board DRO asked the Korangi district SSP to escort MNA Fahim Khan and MPA Raja Azhar outside the cantt limits because they were influencing the voters at the polling stations.
Faisal Cantt DRO issued orders for Ports and Shipping Minister Ali Zaidi to leave the limits of the cantonment because his presence could influence the voters, however, he challenged the decision.
PPP MPA Raja Abdul Razaq was also seen making rounds of election camps near polling stations in total disregard of the ECP rules.
Polling process at a polling station in Malir was suspended for a while with political activists of different parties chanting slogans outside polling station No17 of the Malir Cantonment Board. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf accused the Pakistan Peoples Party women of having two polling agents inside the polling station instead of one and that they were casting fake votes.
PTI polling agents expressed concerns over the situation and the polling process was suspended for some time on charges of casting fake votes. However, the polling process was resumed shortly after.
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Sindh Minister for Information Saeed Ghani has said that the ruling PTI tried to change the election results in different areas of Karachi, especially in Clifton Cantonment Board (CBC).
“Yesterday’s presser by Asad Umar, Ali Zaidi and other federal ministers was also an attempt to influence the cantonment elections,” he said, adding he would respond soon.
“I urge ECP to ensure that no institution interferes in the CBC wards 5, 6, and 7, as well as the cantonment election process and subsequent counting throughout Sindh,” he said in a video statement released on Sunday.
The Pakistan Peoples Party has written several letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan against violations during the cantonment board elections in Karachi.
The letters, written by head of the PPP election cell, Taj Haider, alleged that the members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were visiting polling stations in blatant violation of the ECP’s code of conduct. The letters said that the ECP should take notice of the members of the Assembly influencing the election process.
Governor, KMC administrator cast votes
Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, KMC Administrator Murtaza Wahab, PTI Member Sindh Assembly Khurram Sher Zaman and others are also registered in CBC who cast their votes at their respective polling stations. Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh cast his vote at Malir Cantt.
President Dr Arif Alvi could not exercise his right to vote in the cantonment boards polls as he was not in Karachi. The president’s vote is registered in Cantonment Board Clifton. Former president Pervez Musharraf also could not cast his vote. His vote was registered in Clifton Cantt Ward 7. Musharraf could not participate in the cantonment board elections due to being abroad.
The polling process remained largely peaceful except for a couple of incidents of heated exchange of arguments and slogans outside the polling stations. Earlier in the day, the MQM-P’s local leaders expressed doubt that the election process is being engineered. While tacitly referring to the PSP they complained that the party has been given a free hand with support of the local authorities.
“Despite all the negative propaganda, the people of Hyderabad have given a huge mandate to our party,” said MQM-P’s deputy convener Kunwar Navid Jamil, congratulating the party’s supporters, workers and local leaders over the victory. He said their success has further sapped the assertions of the party’s opponents who say that MQM-P is losing support among the people.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2021.
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