ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement said in the Supreme Court on Thursday that it had doubts that three million votes could have been transferred out of Karachi.
“I don’t think that there is a transfer of such a huge number of votes, otherwise Karachi will be deserted,” Senator Dr Farogh Naseem of the MQM argued before a three-judge bench hearing petitions moved by PTI chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Munawar Hassan, Jehangir Badar of the PPP and Irfanullah Khan Marwat of the PML-N complaining that votes of a sizeable number of people living in Karachi had been registered in their native towns of Swat, Mingora, Mansehra and Attock, although they had been living in the city for 10 to 15 years.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed allowed the MQM to join the proceedings as a co-respondent and a party in the case after the petitioners did not raise any objection.
The MQM moved the application to become a party after the court had on Wednesday asked the Election Commission to consider transferring the three million voters now registered in their native towns to Karachi where they had been living for many years.
Senator Naseem said the total number of votes registered in the 2007 electoral list for Karachi was 6.6 million which increased to 6.8m in the electoral list of 2012. “If the votes of three million people are shifted out of Karachi, the city will be deserted.”
He sought time to come out with an amicable solution to the dispute so that no voter should be deprived of his right of franchise. He said he would hold consultations with the petitioners and ECP officials to find a way out.
The chief justice observed that it was the desire of everybody to see democratic institutions strengthening and, therefore, petty disputes in the way should be settled amicably.
Director General Elections Sher Afgan rejected the allegations levelled by the petitioners and said that over 80 per cent people had been approached during the door-to-door electoral list verification campaign. Only those people were not approached who had same residential addresses in the permanent as well as current address column in the CNIC.
Mr Afgan submitted a comparative study of electoral lists of 2007 and 2012 for Karachi to substantiate his assertion. He said the petitioners were relying on provisional electoral rolls whose errors had been rectified in the final list, adding that the votes had been shifted to people’s native towns only after obtaining their consent and the ECP had documentary evidence of it.
The court asked the ECP to undertake an exercise to find out how many votes had been registered on the same addresses provided in the electoral rolls of 2002, 2005 and 2007 in Karachi.
The ECP is also required to check if the votes of people have been recorded according to their residential addresses; how many people have applied for shifting their votes outside Karachi; how many voters have been approached and under which law the votes have been shifted out of the city and what is the legal status of such a decision.
“Our objective is to find a proper solution,” the court observed and adjourned the hearing for Nov 28.