The PPP upstaged all the predictions by sweeping the local government elections in Hyderabad and leading the table in Karachi as the PTI was reduced to just 40 seats in the port city where it had emerged as the largest party in terms of the members elected for the National Assembly in 2018.
With 235 union committees (UCs) out of a total of 246 for grab, the PPP 94 seats. The JI gave a tough fights by claiming 86. The PTI was a distant third with just 40 seats – proving the general perception wrong in the process that the urban centres are a stronghold of PTI.
This performance would have been even worse if the MQM-P had not opted for a boycott of the local government elections over the delimitation issue.
Meanwhile, the PML-N, which is known for ignoring Karachi despite the possible potential and reach, could only manage seven UCs – down from 19 it had won in the last edition of local government polls.
The remaining UCs were divided among JUI-F 3, TLP 2 and MQM-H (Haqqiqi) 1 while the independent candidates emerged victorious in three.
On the other hand, the PPP is set to get its candidate elected as mayor in Hyderabad for the time in history.
Even after the complete results for Karachi were announced, question marks over the post-voting electoral process persisted with contesting parties and candidates casting doubts over delayed results, non-availability of required documents to polling agents and a slow response from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to the complaints.
JI Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman told a private TV channel on Monday night that the numbers were “fudged” and a majority was converted into a minority.
“I urge the Election Commission and PPP to not rig the polls. We were not provided forms 11 and 12. We were winning almost 100 UCs and on the other hand, PPP was just ahead in 70-75 UCs,” he said.
Naeem added that he had called his party’s meeting after going through the results and claimed that the outcome was changed — the winner was forced into second place.
“If they accept that we are the number 1 party, then we will talk with them [PPP]. Given the results of these polls, we are in no mood to speak to the PPP,” the JI leader said, vowing to knock on every door possible for overturning the results.
Earlier, he, addressing a press conference, said, “We are not getting the results from the returning officers (RO) despite over 18 hours of delay since the conclusion of polling.”
He strongly condemned the delay and called on the authorities concerned to stop the ROs who are “trying to change the results”.
Naeem said that a lot of people from the PPP also voted for JI and claimed that his party had won over 100 seats.
PTI at peak of popularity
Senior PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, talking to a private TV channel, questioned the slow dispersal of results despite a low turnout, saying that his party rejected the election results. “The PTI is at the peak of its popularity, and the results do not reflect that,” he claimed.
What did ECP say?
Sindh Election Commissioner Ajaz Anwar Chauhan on Monday rubbished the rigging allegations in the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad, saying the ECP had a “strict monitoring” mechanism to ensure free and fair elections. It is complicated process and compilation takes time, the ECP said, while advising the critics to show patience.
‘Present evidence in court’
Slamming the rival parties, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani said evidence of rigging in the local government polls should be presented in the court. “If JI has reservations then it should approach the relevant forum,” the provincial minister said.
The PPP leader added that his brother also lost the elections and had the party manipulated results, he would have emerged victorious. “The delimitation was done by the Election Commission,” Ghani maintained.
He categorically refuted contacting the PTI after the announcement of election results, but preferred talks with JI.
“JI has received the mandate. They will be the first party with whom we will talk. We will talk to all other parties except for PTI,” he reiterated.
Ghani shared that PPP’s Najmi Alam is one of the winners in the local government elections and he would be prioritised when names for the post of mayor were to be floated. “The party leadership will make final decision on who will be named as the Karachi mayor,” the minister said.