‘You can rig all you want. Karachi will not take your rubbish’

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People wait in the heat to cast theire vote. PHOTO: @sonjawithaj1

People wait in the heat to cast theire vote. PHOTO: @sonjawithaj1

Thousands of young people in Karachi looking to cast their votes for the first time were bristling with rage when the election process was hijacked in their constituencies.

In NA-250, the Election Commission of Pakistan has said that the process will be started from scratch in those polling stations from which complaints have been received.

One polling station where rigging was blatant was Aisha Bawany Secondary School, where the presiding officer, was watching a woman place stamps on ballot papers and slipping them into the ballot box.

The constituencies falling within district West also remained turbulent throughout Saturday. What began as a smooth start to a seemingly tranquil polling day in NA-242 quickly spiraled into chaos about an hour before noon. A small bomb planted in a bus rocked the area near Shaheen school, a polling station close to Kati Pahari. Polling was immediately suspended in the surrounding polling stations.

Violence was not the only hurdle here: like other parts of the city, voters and polling staff reported blatant hijacking of the election process amid the ECP mismanagement. A group of over 50 young men stormed the Government Boys Primary School, Pirabad, and manhandled the polling staff. While talking to The Express Tribune, Farhat Ali Khan, the presiding officer, said, “They tore half the ballot papers and took away the rest of them.”

More of the same was seen at the Government Degree College in SITE. Unidentified men barged into this polling station and threatened the staff, which scurried off to a separate room some distance away from where the booths had been set up. “They said they would take me to Kati Pahari if I don’t leave the room,” said the rather frightened presiding officer. “Are we here just to count votes as these people do whatever they like?”

Meanwhile, supporters of different political parties had erected barriers along routes which connected Lyari to Kharadar. The area falls in NA-249 – the constituency where a neck-and-neck competition was expected between Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Farooq Sattar and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stalwart Abdul Aziz Memon.

The same happened in the heart of Lyari, where PPP’s Shah Jahan Baloch was vying for the same seat as MQM’s Nabeel Gabol. But here, markets were open and people, especially youngsters were dancing to the tune of Balochi and Sindhi songs, shouting support for PPP. The area might have a reputation for violence, but it remained peaceful on polling day.

At the other end of the city, near Landhi, people didn’t even have to make it all the way to the polling station to discover that their right to vote had been snatched. “You guys don’t need to go to the polling stations as your votes have already been cast,” an activist of a political party told a couple just as they were about to head out to vote.

According to Ashraf Samo, PPP candidate, the democratic process was also derailed in Malir. Reports of the hijacking of the election process also surfaced in NA-253. Umair, a 26-year-old man who did not get to cast his vote made an appeal to the authorities to declare the votes in his constituency null and void. “You can rig all you want. Karachi will not take your rubbish this time.”

Situation in the rest of Sindh 

Violence also ensued in parts of Upper Sindh, disrupting the election process here. Some party workers were bringing voters to polling stations in their vehicles. The staff complained about a lack of facilities and load-shedding during the midnight and in the early morning. In Larkana, the police arrested PPP activist Ghulam Rasool at the Baqrani tower polling station, trying to cast fake vote.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • MOA
    May 12, 2013 - 10:55AM

    Massive rigging in Karachi yesterday. ECP needs to declare all results in Karachi as void and re conduct voting in all the constituencies. !Recommend

  • Falcon
    May 12, 2013 - 11:43AM

    There were so many reports of rigging in Karachi that it is simply mind boggling how violators got away with it. Imagine the feeling you get when you see your vote being thrown in the garbage right in front of you. They have beaten up people, threatened them, and even locked certain buildings in the city so that people can’t get out to vote. Few women I saw on a video were right when they were gifting bangles to the Rangers standing on the spot. I am simply disgusted by this blatant aggression of Namaloom Afraad and its apologists. Thanks ET for at least being brave enough to report on these violations.

    Recommend

  • from Dubai
    May 12, 2013 - 12:46PM

    And those who flown from Overseas to Pakistan to cast vote and returned their resident countries again what will happen with them??? they spend so much money just to cast their votes and ECP was sleeping taking “Consensus ECP pill”…

    Recommend

  • Tahir Ali
    May 12, 2013 - 2:09PM

    ECP should examine massive rigging in Karachi especially NA 250

    This has been a black spot in entire election process.

    naa maloom afrad should learn from what happened PPP in Punjab

    Recommend

  • madiha
    May 12, 2013 - 2:20PM

    The same is the story all over Punjab.

    Recommend

  • not impressed
    May 12, 2013 - 4:27PM

    when i reached ph 8 DA Model school at 2pm, a Rangers’ official went inside and ‘discovered’ that the ballot boxes and papers for 804-807 had been ‘hidden at the back’ for 6 hours –
    prior to this 5-6 gunda’s entered the polling station with 9mm pistols and god knows what they did inside, obviously no army or rangers were there at that time.
    the female staff inside (whom i got to at 8.30 pm after waiting for 6.5 hrs) was having difficulty writing my NIC number down, she was at least 60 yrs old could not read properly or write – all of them were slow and quite illiterate – it was indeed a struggle to cast my vote.

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  • Depressed
    May 12, 2013 - 4:49PM

    ECP should conduct reelections throughout Karachi due to the massive rigging by the NA MALOOM AFRAAD, esp in NA 250, 252 and 253!

    My vote was in 253, however the election process started there after 11.30. There was almost no ECP staff in my polling station and all the eclection process was done solely by the na maloom afraad!

    Recommend

  • Getrealpeople
    May 12, 2013 - 7:50PM

    Spare the greif !!!!!!! So everywhere in Pakistan elections were held fair and withought any rigging right ? You people have not gone out of ” Family and Bradari Siyasat” and you will never be cause that is the mentality you born and bread with. Whenever the result dont go in your favor you conveniently blame other parties for rigging elections. Whether its PTI, MQM, JI , PML (N) . There is a greater power that is controlling the fate of this country and you people are just pin pointing fingers at eachother. Before changing any party or system, look at yourself from inside and get rid of the rubbish of hate and discrimination out of your soul. As long as hate, injustice, exploitation and abuse of resources from one group or province continues, your country will never take a road to prosperity and progress. Either that or get ready for further division of your country. just watch!!!!!!!

    Recommend

  • Modi
    May 12, 2013 - 10:57PM

    @MOA: ecp is itself sold out brother, election should be redone in karachi under the super vision of army

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  • blowback
    May 12, 2013 - 11:46PM

    Your reporters fail to mention the name of the party whose activist told voters that they don’t need to cast their votes as the party workers had “cast their votes for them.” (Please refer to the third last paragraph in the article) If your reporters or you as newspaper cannot show a slight bit of honesty by revealing the name of the party who snatched the democratic right of voting from people, do you think we should expect revealing, investigative and honest journalism from you guys.

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