The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lived up to expectations in Sindh on Thursday, securing the most seats in the second phase of the local government elections while suffering a major setback in Badin and seeing its alliance in Hyderabad routed.
According to unofficial and partial results, the PPP had secured over 600 seats in the 14 districts of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah divisions. At least 120 seats were won by independent candidates, 90 by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), 50 by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and 13 by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as per preliminary results.
Over 4,000 seats of chairmen and vice chairmen of the union councils, union committees, ward councillors, municipal committees and town committees were up for grabs.
In Badin, Zulfiqar Mirza proved how weak the PPP was in its stronghold as candidates backed by the dissident jiyala swept all 14 seats of Badin Municipal Committees and two seats of Matli municipality. In the urban areas, which include town and municipal committees, Mirza bagged 33 seats against PPP’s 26.
The MQM swept Hyderabad where it was up against the Tameer-i-Hyderabad Ittehad – a ten party alliance comprising the PPP, PML-N, PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami and JUP. The MQM had a head start of 22 union committees, having won them unopposed, pushed its advantage to bag another 61 seats out of the 96 up for grabs.
In Tharparkar, the PPP made massive gains by beating the influential Arbab family, who are allied to the PML-N. According to preliminary results, the party won all the three TCs and 15 UCs out of 56 UCs. The Arbabs, led by former Sindh CM Ghulam Arbab Rahim, had won only TC Nangarparkar.
The PPP also bagged a surprising victory in Thatta where the PML-N-backed Sherazi family is quite influential. The party swept the municipal committee seats, as well as all the five TCs, and led the race for district councillors as well.
Elsewhere, it was more or less business as usual for the PPP as it dominated elections in Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sakrand, Tando Allahyar, Dadu, Naushero Feroze, Matli, Tando Ghulam Ali, Kadhan and Shaheed Benazirabad. According to unofficial results, the PPP had either won or was leading the tally in a majority of these areas but had fallen short in Bhitshah.
Out of 16 seats in Mehrabpur, the PML-N won 12, while two each were claimed by the MQM and independents.
Mirza’s youngest son Hassam, who was contesting for the chairman seat for Badin district, had beaten PPP MPA Dr Sikandar Mandhro’s cousin.
Due to a dispute over delimitations in Shaheed Benazirabad, the ECP had cancelled polls for 53 union councils, five municipal committees and 18 town committees.
While the fatal shooting of a political leader in Hyderabad just hours before the second round of local government (LG) elections had sparked fears of another violence-scarred day in Sindh, the 14 districts of lower Sindh which voted on Thursday saw mostly minor clashes with one PPP worker dead and dozens injured.
Sindh United Party (SUP) leader Dr Anwar Laghari, 55, was shot dead in Qasimabad area of Hyderabad late Wednesday. The party’s candidate for ward 8, Abdul Samee Chandio, and his brother, Abdul Waqar alias Sunni Chandio, were critically injured in the same attack and remain in hospital.
While SUP vice-president Roshan Buriro blamed their rivals for the attack, the party has yet to lodge an FIR.
The attack set the mood for elections in Hyderabad where two men and a 10-year old girl were wounded in a clash outside a polling station in UC-53 in Hussainabad area of Hyderabad. Ten people were reportedly wounded in skirmishes in Jamshoro, while a PPP worker was shot dead outside a polling station in Sujawal.
In Tharparkar, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar accused ruling PPP of attacking him outside Kohli Mohallah polling station in Islamkot. PPP MNA Mahesh Kumar Malani, though, denied the charges, instead he blamed the PML-N leader for inciting violence. Over half a dozen people were injured in three separate clashes in the district.
Elsewhere seven people were injured in Tando Muhammad Khan, three in Thatta, two each in Matiari and Umerkot districts.
In Nawabshah (Shaheed Benazirabad), supporters of SUP and PPP clashed at a polling station set up in Government Girls Primary School, Sakrand’s ward 5. Due to the clash, the district returning officer halted results of the affected polling station.
In Naushero Feroze, polling was relatively peaceful, except for minor clashes between two groups at Moro’s Shah Baig polling station where 12 people were injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.