Pakistani supporters of Islamic party Jammat-e-Islami (JI) stage a protest in front of a provincial election commission office in Karachi on May 11, 2013. A major Islamist party on May 11 announced it would boycott Pakistan’s elections in the country’s financial hub Karachi and another city, accusing a rival party of rigging and violence. — Photo by AFP
KARACHI, May 11: Four religious parties, the Jamaat-i-Islami, Sunni Tehreek, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan and the Sunni Ittehad Council, and Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) pulled out their candidates from the electoral race in Karachi, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also partially boycotted polling in a few constituencies citing allegations of poll irregularities and rigging on Saturday.
Even parties like the PPP, PTI, PML-N and the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen joined the chorus against the Election Commission of Pakistan and law-enforcement agencies and criticised them for their failure to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in certain constituencies.
Most of the parties which completely boycotted the polling in the middle of the day also accused the MQM of rigging.
JI chief Syed Munawar Hasan alleged that armed men of the MQM had terrorised voters in Karachi and Hyderabad making it difficult for them to freely exercise their right of vote.
Addressing a press conference, he endorsed the decision of the Karachi and Hyderabad chapters of his party to boycott the poll in the two cities.
Karachi JI chief Mohammad Hussain Mehanti accused the MQM of kidnapping election staff and taking away election material from polling stations in several constituencies.
He gave a call for protests on Monday against incidents of alleged rigging.
The MQM-Haqiqi led by Afaq Ahmed also boycotted the polls and accused the ECP and law-enforcement agencies of not following directives of superior judiciary about holding free and fair elections.
Speaking at a press conference, MQM-H leader Shamshad Ghori demanded that the ECP should hold fresh election for all Karachi seats in the presence of the army.
He also accused the MQM of forcibly occupying polling stations and denying access to the polling agents of his party. “We are supporting the strike call given by the JI against poll rigging in Karachi,” he added.
The JUP announced a boycott of elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
JUP president Sahibzada Abul Khair Mohammad Zubair, who was contesting for NA-220 (Hyderabad) seat, said at a press conference that a particular party had hijacked polling stations in the district.
Sunni Tehreek chief Sarwat Ejaz Qadri said his party decided to boycott the polls after its polling agents were beaten up and polling stations were occupied by ‘Thappa mafia’.
He demanded re-election in Karachi under the supervision of the army so that real representatives of people could reach parliament.
Sunni Ittehad Council leader Tariq Mehboob said it had boycotted the elections because of widespread rigging, adding that his party would not accept the results.
He demanded fresh elections under the supervision of the army.
The MQM boycotted polls in one NA and two PA constituencies of Lyari.
Its leader Nabil Gabol told reporters that ‘terrorists of Lyari gang war’ carried out massive rigging in over 65 polling stations in NA-248 and PS-108 and 109. “The ECP was approached several times, but no action was taken, giving credibility to a perception that the commission is also a part of a conspiracy against the MQM.”
He demanded fresh polling in the three constituencies.