KARACHI, Aug 3: Expressing concern over a massive decline in the number of Sindh voters in the newly released electoral rolls, political parties look up to the election commission to explain factors behind the sudden drop of over 1.1 million registered voters in the province.
The total number of voters in Sindh in 2007 was 19,539,510 and in the new electoral rolls, their number stood at 18,432,877. This means some 1,106,633 voters are no more part of the new electoral rolls.
The ruling coalition — the Pakistan People’s Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and PML-Q — as well as the Jamaat-i-Islami, which currently has no representation in the Sindh Assembly, are equally perturbed over the reduction of a large number of voters in the new electoral rolls.
A couple of these parties even see conspiracies in the massive reduction of voters in the province.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who is PPP provincial president, said that his party had serious reservations over the reduction of voters in Sindh in the computerised electoral rolls.
Speaking to reporters in Sukkur on Friday, he said that the number of voters in Sindh should have been increased over the years. He said that a committee had been constituted at the provincial level to review the new voters’ list and the election commission was also approached for reviewing the electoral rolls.
MQM leader Raza Haroon said that the Muttahida would condemn deletion of even a single legitimate voter from the electoral rolls. “The reduction of voters in Sindh is indeed a matter of concern, but at present we are reviewing the new voters’ list.”
He said that the election commission should have made its procedure simple so that a man living in a village could get himself registered as a voter.
Mr Haroon, however, said that the 2008 general election was held on electoral rolls that contained ‘a very large number of bogus voters’.
“Whether it [reduction] is because of deletion of bogus voters or some other reasons is something that needs to be looked into.”
According to media reports, the number of voters in Karachi rose despite a drop in the other districts of Sindh.
PML-F leader Jam Madad Ali was of the opinion that the election commission should take prompt notice of the reduction of voters in Sindh and take meaningful steps to rectify the situation.
He said the deletion of bogus votes or those who had enlisted them as voters from multiple constituencies was a good decision, but there were some other factors behind the reduction of voters in the new electoral rolls that should be looked into.
“A large number of people were displaced due to floods when the election commission was carrying out its voters’ registration exercise in Sindh. And, in several areas influential persons had forced the staff concerned not to register the supporters of their political opponents in the voters’ list.”
He requested Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim that mobile teams of election commission staff be arranged at Tehsil level so that those who had been not included in the electoral rolls could get themselves registered as voters. “This should be done after proper verification,” he added.
PML-Q leader Haleem Adil Shaikh believed that the reduction of voters mainly from the interior of Sindh would widen the gulf between urban and rural areas. “We were not satisfied when the election commission had started the process and today the decrease in the number of voters in Sindh proved that our reservations were based on facts.” He blamed the stakeholders in the interior of Sindh for neglecting the voters’ registration process and said that their ‘slackness’ resulted in the reduction of over 1.1 million voters. “We have asked our central leadership to approach the election commission to resolve this issue. We hope the new CEC will play his role and inform the people of Sindh about the factors behind such a massive decrease.”
The Awami National Party also voiced its concern over the new electoral rolls and vowed that nobody would be allowed to rob the people’s mandate.
Senator Shahi Syed, Sindh ANP president, stated that his party had serious concerns over the new voters’ list and soon a party delegation would meet the CEC to apprise him of the facts.
Karachi JI chief Mohammad Hussain Mehanti told Dawn that from the very beginning his party had serious reservation over the whole process. “The reduction of votes in the new electoral rolls is a part of a well-planned conspiracy.”
He said that the JI was cautiously reviewing the new voters’ list. “We call upon the new CEC to take steps to resolve this serious issue at the earliest.”