The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday released the results of 122 out of 246 union committees (UCs) in Karachi, where polling was held a day earlier for the local government elections.
So far, the PPP leads with 58 UCs followed by 31 for JI, 26 for PTI and four for PML-N with JUI-F, TLP and independents bagging one each.
According to the ECP, the remaining results will be released by Monday evening after the country’s top electoral body earlier in the day listed a “complicated process” as the reason after various political parties voiced their concern over rigging.
It was responding to the criticism over the delay in announcing the results of local government elections. “This is a complicated process and it takes time to prepare the result of one union council,” said Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan in a press statement.
Earlier, the initial results showed that the PTI suffered a setback in Karachi with the PPP leading the race so far, as the various political parties accused the provincial government of rigging and criticised the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) for being a “helpless and silent spectator” after the majority of results could not be announced by the time this report was being filed on Monday.
On the other hand, the MQM-P, which boycotted the exercise, described low turnout as a victory of the party’s narrative, saying the elections in Karachi and Hyderabad failed to win the people’s mandate.
Meanwhile, the PPP was leading in Hyderabad and in a position for the first time in history to appoint its mayor in Sindh’s second-largest city, unofficial results showed on Monday.
As far as Karachi is concerned, results of only 40 union committees (UCs) out of a total of 246 has so far been released with the PPP emerging victorious on 23. It was followed by PTI 11 and one each for JI TLP and JUI-F.
It was certainly a bad sign for the PTI when Khurram Sher Zaman — considered as the party’s candidate for mayor — lost to PPP’s Najmi Alam in the Saddar area of Karachi.
With the delay announcing in results even after polling closed at 5pm on Sunday, claims were made that the Sindh government and the ECP were involved in delaying the release of results.
However, the PPP blamed the rivals, mainly the PTI, for deliberately sabotaging the peaceful process after sensing defeat in most parts of the province, including its stronghold Karachi.
The PTI openly accused the PPP and the provincial administration of wrongdoing, warning that any attempt to “change the results” after voting would lead to a strong reaction.
“I am closely monitoring the results of each polling station, ward and UCs [union councils],” tweeted Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, the PTI president in Sindh.
He said his party was “coming out as the leading party in Karachi. I am also being informed about games being played behind the scenes by the dirty forces of PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement]. Political engineers should respect public mandate”.
Similarly, JI’s Karachi chapter head, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, at a hurriedly called press conference warned of sieging the polling stations where he said results were deliberately being delayed “to manage things”.
In Hyderabad and rural districts of the province, the key contestant Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) — an umbrella of different political parties representing the opposition — rejected the electoral process and demanded “immediate intervention” of the state institutions. It also blamed the ECP for facilitating the ruling PPP in rigging and violation of the code of conduct.
On the other hand, the MQM-P leaders, at a press conference on Sunday, reiterated their anger against the ECP for allegedly failing to play its due role and going beyond its constitutional mandate to allow the local body elections despite the Sindh government’s withdrawal of a notification on delimitation.
“With this [low] turnout, these elections have already lost their moral value,” said MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi.
“It would further prove in the days to come that the MQM was right and those who contested the polls despite knowing injustice and illegal process of all this exercise would be rejected by the people of Karachi. In fact they have sold out their political future. The people of Karachi would never accept them as their local government representatives,” he said.
It’s a developing story. Details to follow