JI, others boycott polls in Karachi on rigging charges

KARACHI - Amid allegations of foul play and rigging, political parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM-Haqiqi), JUP, Sunni Tehreek and Majlis Wahadat Al Muslimeen on Wednesday announced their boycott of elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

By Rehan Siddiqui

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Published: Mon 13 May 2013, 12:17 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:16 AM

All these parties held their rival Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) responsible for the situation and alleged the party was involved in scuffle with law enforcement personnel and blamed the Election Commission for allowing rigging.

Many localities of the city including the Defence area witnessed a total failure on the part of the Election Commission as polling was delayed for as long as four hours on the excuse of non-availability of ballot papers, seals and absence of election staff.

Thousands of voters of NA-250 and 253 including men, women, old and young, went to cast their votes and lined up in queues at around 7.30am. However, after waiting for several hours under oppressive heat hundreds returned to their homes without casting their votes while some others preferred to stay there.

Even the Chief Justice of Sindh High Court, Justice Musheer Alam, waited for two hours at a polling station in the Defence area but left without casting his vote.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan, who cast his vote in Karachi, squarely blamed the ECP for what happened in the city and even charged that after 3pm the “stuffing of bogus votes” by the MQM would take place.

“These are false elections, armed workers of the MQM are terrorising people and rigging the elections,” JI leader Mohammed Hussain Mehanti announced at a Press conference.

“MQM workers are openly displaying arms and torturing people, they are harassing people, how it is possible to conduct fair and free elections in such an atmosphere?” Mehanti said.

JI withdrew all of its 29 candidates who were contesting for national and provincial seats, as well as withdrawing from the city of Hyderabad. The party did not take part in the last elections in 2008.

Most of the political parties contesting elections in city even alleged that election staff consisted mostly of activists and workers of MQM and was hired on party’s demand, adding that “we informed the ECP about the situation but to no avail”.

Cricket star Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) also accused the MQM of major rigging in the city.

Responding to the boycott, Haider Abbas Rizvi, a senior MQM leader, said: “By boycotting the elections, (JI) deprived the people of Karachi and Hyderabad of democratically defeating it through ballot.”

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the MQM also alleged large-scale rigging and other irregularities in several parts of Sindh and demanded action by the ECP.

“We are not happy with the situation in some localities and have pointed out to the ECP to take action,” said MQM’s Haider Abbas Rizvi. MQM also announced boycott of elections in Lyari’s NA-248 constituency.

PPP’s Taj Haider, without naming any party, also alleged rigging particularly in Karachi, Thatta and Badin.

The Election Commission also raised concerns about threats to its staff in the city, which it says has prevented them from performing their duties.

“In other instances, attempts have been made to hijack the vehicles transporting voting material from the returning officers to the polling stations. This has caused serious delays in polling,” it said in a statement.


(With inputs from AFP)

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