KARACHI: Several political parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen, announced on Wednesday that they will observe a Black Friday across Sindh on May 17 in protest of the ‘hijacked’ elections which were held on May 11. A mass rally will be organised at the Mazar-e-Quaid on Friday to mark the protest.
This was announced by the JI’s Karachi general secretary, Naseem Siddique, at the party’s sit-in protest on main University Road, next to the Expo Centre.
On the fourth day of the protest demanding re-elections in the city, hundreds of activists and supporters thronged the venue. This time, however, the supporters were better equipped as participants brought mats to sit on and eatables to keep themselves energetic. Meanwhile, street-hawkers and vendors of the area seemed to be enjoying the large influx of people as their businesses flourished with people buying large quantities of goods.
The rally of hundreds of JI supporters started at 6.30pm, with people chanting slogans against rigging in the elections and against the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Hardly 200 metres away, hundreds of PTI supporters held a sit-in with the same demands. The charged up crowd, consisting people of all ages and backgrounds, shouted slogans against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and ECP, demanding re-elections across the city, Party’s anthems played in the background, raising the crowd’s spirits even higher.
PTI’s supporter, Syed Akbar Ali, told The Express Tribune that “My only concern is where my vote went. Until the ECP gives us a reasonable response, these sit-ins will continue.” Such was the general consensus among all the participants of the rally. “If the ECP says there were no anomalies, they should verify the thumb impressions on the ballot papers with the help of NADRA,” said his wife, Hina.
A makeshift stage had been set up which staged an LCD screen. Videos of different rigging incidents were displayed on the screen which recieved boos from the crowd. Referring to the vidoes of alleged rigging, PTI leader Naz Baloch asked the crowd that if the overseas Pakistanis could see what was going on in the videos, why couldn’t the ECP?
“What happened in Karachi on the day of election was disgusting to say the least. We will go wherever the party leadership calls us. The presiding officer at Mehran School polling station in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, was busy with his biryani, pan and cigarettes as he told me my vote had already been cast” said a protester, Tahira Iqbal.
The rally continued until late into the night. The JI leadership announced that the sit-in will continue at Nursery, Shahra-e-Faisal from 6.30pm.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2013.
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