New delimitation is a prerequisite to hold local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad, the MQM-P said Friday, but added that the party would not boycott the process.
“If the elections are held despite our concerns then we will not boycott them. However, we will not accept the results,” MQM-P Spokesperson Ahsan Ghauri told a private TV channel.
The announcement came hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to hold local government polls in Karachi and Hyderabad on the scheduled date of Jan 15, rejecting the Sindh government’s request to postpone the exercise.
Separately, MQM-P’s Barrister Farogh Naseem, who addressed a press conference along with other party leaders, accused the Sindh government of unfairness in determining the constituencies for the local government polls.
“Under Sindh Local Government Act Section 10 Subsection 1, the provincial government had determined the constituencies for the LG polls, but the constituencies had a disproportional population,” he added.
The constituencies where the MQM-P has vote banks consist of 90,000 people and the others have just 20,000 population, he claimed, adding that it was an injustice to the citizens.
Speaking on the occasion, Faisal Subzwari said he doubted the transparency of elections following the discrepancies within constituencies.
“It is visible in the constituencies that the population of Nazimabad, Korangi, and Orangi Town is more compared to the seats. In some areas, the population is less and the seats are more. How will the elections be transparent?” Subzwari questioned.
In an apparent reference to the JI, he also questioned the people placing banners across the city about their absence when ‘injustice was being meted out” to Karachi and Hyderabad.
“There was no census in the city for the last 20 years. When joining the [Pakistan Democratic Movement] PDM’s government, the first point raised was regarding the census,” he said.
ECP to go for elections
Earlier in the day, the ECP, Rejecting the Sindh government’s request to postpone the local government elections, decided to hold the exercise on January 15 in Karachi and Hyderabad.
The decision was taken in a chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in Islamabad, as the ECP reviewed the situation after the provincial government’s request.
It was a result of a surprising move when the Sindh government in early hours of Friday announced that the local government elections, scheduled for Jan 15, would not be held in Karachi, Hyderabad and Dadu. However, the polls will go ahead as per plan in Tando Allayar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal and Jamshoro.
Addressing a press conference, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon also said the notification to hold the polls on the basis of the existing delimitation had been withdrawn on the demand of their coalition partner, the MQM-P, which had serious reservations with it.
The moves comes as the MQM-P had rejected the delimitation of local government constituencies, terming them unjustified. As a result, the second phase of local government elections in Sindh has been postponed for the third time – originally scheduled for July 24 but delayed because of the unprecedented monsoon rains and floods.
Later, the ECP rescheduled the polls for Aug 28, but they were deferred again due to the flood situation and a shortage of police personnel in Karachi.
Memon said that the provincial government had already written to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for postponing local government elections in Dadu since swathes of the district were still under floodwaters.
The decision came after an emergency meeting of presided over by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, provincial cabinet members and others. Prior to the PPP meeting, the Sindh cabinet had postponed its meeting where the issue was expected to be taken up.
However, the term of the local governments had expired on Aug 30, 2020, and the ECP is bound to hold elections within 120 days of this.
Shortly after the announcement, an MQM-P delegation reached the Chief Minister’s House to thank the Sindh government for following through on the party’s demand to delay the local body polls.
JI and PTI want to follow schedule
In a statement, JI Karachi president Hafiz Naeem-Ur-Rehman said his party would not accept the postponement of the elections and termed the decision an ambush on Karachi and Hyderabad by the PPP and MQM-P.
He asked the JI members to remain on their marks with unwavering courage as the party’s line of action will be issued soon. “The Sindh government’s decision is not acceptable under any circumstances.”
Asking the party activists to gear up for protest on Friday, he said: “We will stage a protest, go to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s premises, and the court as well. We will not let these people — the MQM-P and PPP — flee.”
“This [postponement of LG elections] is nothing but backstabbing and an overnight ambush. This is a repeat of what has always happened as the MQM-P and the PPP commit wrongs [against the people].”
Naeem termed the two parties as “robbers” who deprived the youth of their rights, leaving them bereft of education and other basic amenities of civic life. He said the parties pound to devour “even a single ray of hope whenever it is created”.
In a similar reaction, the PTI said they would challenge the delay in the courts and explore every democratic avenue, as the party’s Sindh chapter president, Ali Zaidi, said the provincial government took the step as they were afraid of defeat. The PTI will give a call for protest on Saturday after consultations, he added.
Leader of the Opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh said the MQM-P had worked as a pressure group to the PPP and the two parties were two sides of the same coin.
“Sindh’s biggest ailment and money-worshipper fled Karachi after he had to lick the dust in Punjab,” Sheikh said and added that he should quit politics by admitting moral as well as political defeat.