KARACHI, May 11: NA-250 proved the most troubled and controversial constituency of the lot where all rival political parties hurled accusations of rigging at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, but the MQM itself complained of delayed polling at several polling stations because of the election commission’s poor logistic capacity on Saturday.
The Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) alleged ‘rigging’ in NA-250 and announced its boycott of the poll in Karachi, while the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), like the JI, accused the MQM of committing rigging mainly in the NA-250 constituency.
PTI secretary general Arif Alvi, also a candidate for NA-250, complained that at most places polling had been ‘deliberately delayed’ by the MQM, because it was not the area where ‘the city’s dominant party dominates’.
Syed Najmi Alam, PPP Karachi general secretary, said the polling had been delayed ‘only in those areas where the MQM did not have strongholds’.However, the MQM dismissed all accusations against it and said the party was also not happy with the fact that at many polling stations the ECP’s logistic capacity was questionable.
A visit to the NA-250 constituency showed that complaints of delays in polling were widespread. At many places, polling staffers were inadequate while there were polling stations where polling was delayed because of belated arrival of ballot papers, stamps and other material.
Some 10 polling stations were housed in the gigantic DHA Model High School, Phase VII, where around 10,000 voters were enrolled. The school was surrounded by cars of the voters.
Long queues were seen outside as polling staff said they did not receive ballot boxes on time.
The earliest vote at one of the polling station polled there was at 12.40pm while the first vote at the last polling station that started functioning was polled at 2:10pm.
“I came here to vote at 8.30am and could only be able to accomplish the task at 2.45pm,” said Shirin Haq, 71.
Polling started in time at the Government Women’s College at Burnes Road and delayed for three hours at the Hyderi Public School in Saddar because of unavailability of ballot papers, but at the Junior Model School in Clifton and the Cantt Girls College, there was sparse polling staff, too insufficient to cater to the long queues outside the polling booths.
The polling staff conceded their inability to cope with the people whose number was swelling with the passage of time.
People complained at the Government Girls Secondary School near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine in Clifton about slow polling. Nadeem Ahmed of Shah Rasool Colony said the election commission informed them that their names were slotted in the Boys School, from where they were told that the electoral rolls containing their names were at the nearby girls school.
“After a couple of hours standing in the queue at the boys school, I made it to the polling booth where the staff asked me to go to the girls school. I’ve been here since morning and still unable to cast my vote even after the passage of four hours,” said Nadeem Ahmed.
Many Christians had their votes in the Cantt Girls College, who complained of hours-long delays and were unhappy to see that there was no water available in the vicinity in the sizzling heat.
In Hijrat Colony, the presiding officer on one of two polling stations housed in Islamia Collegiate, came late and ballot papers arrived just a couple of hours before the polling time was about to end. The area is Pakhtun-dominated where large queues of voters kept protesting outside, virtually making the polling staff hostage.
A similar situation was at the Qamarul Islam School polling station in Punjab Colony, where one of the two polling stations had catered to just 25 of the some 2,000 votes when it had to stop because of people on another polling station in the same school where ballot papers had not arrived. The ballot papers, according to staff, arrived at around 5pm.
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