KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, May 17: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement will boycott re-polling in 43 polling stations of Karachi’s NA-250 constituency and corresponding Sindh Assembly seats (PS-112, 113) hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) dismissed its plea for re-election in the entire constituency.
Thy boycott was announced by MQM leader Raza Haroon at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Karachi on Friday evening. The decision was taken at a meeting of the MQM coordination committee held simultaneously in Karachi and London.
Mr Haroon said it was his party’s democratic right to reject the ECP order, adding that it would take “every possible action” against what he called the unconstitutional and illegal decision and approach every forum to raise its voice.
He accused the commission of dividing the people of different cities in the country and also people of Karachi.
He alleged that the ECP had failed to send polling staff and election material on time to the polling stations in NA-250.
He also accused the commission of failing to take notice of violations of election-related laws by Arif Alvi, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate for the NA seat.
He said the media had focused on only one polling station and ignored others in Buzzerta Line, Dolly Khata, Punjab Colony and Shireen Jinnah Colony etc.
He alleged that conspiracies had been hatched to snatch the mandate of the MQM even before the beginning of the election process.
He said delimitation had been carried out only in Karachi, after the announcement of the election schedule and in the absence of a fresh national census.
He warned those plotting against the MQM to be careful and said no operation had eliminated the party.
Earlier in Islamabad, the ECP dismissed the MQM’s petition for re-polling in the entire NA-250 constituency on the ground that low turnout was no justification for it.
In its order, the ECP called for army deployment in and outside the 43 polling stations. It proposed that the army should assist the provincial administration, Rangers and police in maintaining law and order in Karachi on Saturday, the day of re-polling, under Article 245 of the constitution.
It sent a copy of the order to the directorate general (military operations) of the General Headquarters.
The commission met here with Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakharuddin G. Ebrahim in the chair and heard the parties concerned -- the MQM and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
The MQM was represented by its deputy convener Dr Farooq Sattar, Babar Ghauri and Senator Dr Farogh Naseem and the PTI by its candidate Dr Arif Alvi.
The ECP directed the election commissioner of Sindh to finalise arrangements for re-polling in accordance with its May 14 notification.
The order also calls for re-polling in NA-250’s corresponding constituencies of Sindh Assembly -- PS 112 and 113 -- on the basis of a report from the district returning officer of Karachi South that polling at the stations could not begin till 2pm and that large-scale malpractices had taken place.
The chief secretary of Sindh assured the commission that he would provide security and minimise chances of any untoward incident with the support of the army.
“… Army has already assured us of full cooperation and support stating that security arrangement will be tightened in Karachi during re-polling,” the order reads.
After hearing the arguments of the two sides, the ECP had reserved the order. Dr Sattar told reporters that it would be injustice and discrimination if re-polling was ordered only in 43 polling stations on the basis of the returning officers’ report. The situation was the same at other polling stations in the constituency where unprecedented mismanagement had been witnessed, he said.
Senator Naseem said no vote had been cast at 45 polling stations and the turnout was 30 per cent at the remaining 135 stations. “If our plea is dismissed we will knock the doors of superior courts if time allows, or will go to the election tribunal after re-polling.”
Dr Alvi said rigging in Karachi and Hyderabad had been exposed by various video recordings and called for re-polling in all constituencies in Karachi.
Also on Friday, the ECP rejected a plea of Muttahida Deeni Mahaz candidate for NA-89 (Jhang), Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, for recounting of votes in his constituency where, according to unofficial results, he had been defeated by PML-N candidate Sheikh Muhammad Akram by a margin of around 3,000 votes.
It ordered re-polling in NA-19 (Haripur) on an application of Umer Ayub Khan of the PML-N who had lost to PTI’s Raja Aamer Zaman by about 2,000 votes.
The commission reversed its earlier decision of vote recount in NA-57 (Attock). The order had been issued a couple of days ago on an application of PTI’s Malik Amin Aslam but Sheikh Aftab Ahmad of the PML-N, who had won the seat, obtained a stay against it. After vacating the stay, the court had asked the ECP to decide the matter and the commission rejected the plea.
Mr Ahmad has defeated Mr Aslam by a margin of over 4,000 votes.
In another development, the ECP withdrew its notifications issued in March and April to ban transfers and postings of officials of federal, provincial and local governments.
A fresh notification said there was no need for continuation of the ban because elections had been held.
The previous notifications banning postings and transfers have been withdrawn with effect from May 12.