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LARKANA: Sindh United Party (SUP) chairman Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah feared on Wednesday that the way the candidates of anti-PPP parties were being kidnapped, harassed and forced to change loyalties and step down, the excesses might repeat the 1977-like situation when Maulana Jan Muhammed Abbasi had been abducted and elections declared null and void.

He said feudal lords, landlords and Pakistan Peoples Party leaders were trying to get their party candidates elected unopposed, which spoke of their shaken confidence.

Addressing a press conference at the press club here, he said the Sindh government would be held responsible for the debacle if democracy was derailed.

He referred to the case of SUP candidate Sardar Khan Jarwar, contesting for a seat of general councillor from a union council in Shahdadkot, who was implicated in false cases only to pressurise to leave ground vacant for a PPP candidate.

“We are still unaware of his whereabouts,” he said and alleged that the Sindh government was using police and other departments as tools to book opponents’ proposers, seconders and their supporters in fake cases. This was unfair, he said.

This negative trend could harm the election process, he said, adding that the SUP had lodged a complaint with the provincial Election Commission (EC) against such illegal actions.

He called for postponing the polls at that particular seat till the situation became clear.

Everything was being done under the nose of the provincial election commission, but it remained unmoved, which put a question mark on its neutrality, Mr Shah said.

He said SUP candidate Imamzadi contesting from UC-17 in Larkana city on a general councillor’s seat was forced to step down on Wednesday. It was a big question mark on the impartiality of the Sindh EC, he said.

The SUP chief asked what harm was there in deploying Army and Rangers personnel during the local government elections, adding that the very exercise was observed in the 2001-2002 elections.

This would help ensure transparency and discourage use of state machinery to rig the polls.

Otherwise, he apprehended, when bigwigs would travel with heavily guarded caravans to visit polling stations, the situation might lead to clashes between workers and supporters of different political parties.

He said the PPP was going to commit the 1977-like blunder as, according to him, current situation would become a crisis.

He said the SUP led in circulating its local government election manifesto and disclosed that so far its 800 candidates were in the run and it supported 11,000 others in the province. In Larkana alone, 42 SUP candidates were in the field and somewhere local adjustments were made with other political parties, he said.

Mr Shah announced support for Javed Shaikh who is contesting as an independent candidate against the acting president of the Larkana district PPP, Khair Muhammed Shaikh, in UC-17 and for Tariq Nazeer Shaikh of the Larkana Awami Ittehad (LAI) in UC-16 where the PPP has fielded former president of the Larkana Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mumtaz Shaikh.

The SUP chief was also critical of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision of stopping media from reporting unofficial results. This was mala fide, he said.

SUP vice chairman Roshan Buriro, information secretary Idrees Chandio, Roshan Kalhoro, Ms Shiba Mughal and SUP divisional organiser Dr Mazhar Mughal were present at the press conference.

Published in Dawn October 29th, 2015

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