KARACHI: Claiming the low turnout a “success” of its narrative, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) on Sunday called the local government (LB) elections in Karachi and Hyderabad a “failure” to win the people’s mandate after the party announced to boycott the electoral process in protest against unjustified delimitation, fake voter list and undercounting of population in the National Census 2017.

Leaders of the MQM-P in a press conference at its temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad reiterated their anger against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which “failed” to play its due role and went “beyond its constitutional mandate” to allow the elections despite the Sindh government’s decision to withdraw notification on delimitation.

Party convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi, along with Dr Farooq Sattar and Mustafa Kamal, said the MQM’s decision to boycott the polls reflected in the turnout and people in the urban Sindh stood firm with that narrative as majority of them decided to stay away from the voting process.

Accompanied by a little child, a lone voter stands in a Malir polling station to cast her vote (top right); a large number of people turn up outside a station in Hijrat Colony; and vote counting under way after polling on Sunday.—Fahim Siddiqi / Shakil Adil / White Star
Accompanied by a little child, a lone voter stands in a Malir polling station to cast her vote (top right); a large number of people turn up outside a station in Hijrat Colony; and vote counting under way after polling on Sunday.—Fahim Siddiqi / Shakil Adil / White Star

“With this [low] turnout, these elections have already lost their moral value,” he said. “It would further prove in the days to come that the MQM-P was right and those who contested the polls despite knowing the exploitation, injustice and illegal process of all this exercise would be rejected by the people of Karachi. They in fact have sold out their political future. The people of Karachi would never accept them as their local government representatives.”

Former Karachi mayor Mustafa Kamal explained that the “gerrymandering” was done to deprive Karachi from 73 union councils (UCs) and any result of voting on the current delimitation would never reflect the true mandate of the city.

“A detailed study suggested that there are total 73 UCs, according to the documented population of Karachi, which were never carved out,” he said. “The Sindh government took too much time to understand this point and finally it was convinced that the city was short of 53 UCs, which are of the size of two districts. How can you justify these elections?”

Interestingly, Mr Kamal gave a clean chit to the Sindh government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), saying that it took time but made its efforts to fix the flaws. However, it was the ECP which violated the defined rules.

“When the provincial government is agreeing that it has made a mistake and it’s fixing it, withdrawing the notification on the delimitation then how is the ECP entitled to challenge this authority of the provincial administration? This is against the law,” said Mr Kamal.

Dr Farooq Sattar was quite critical on the role of political parties which decided to contest the polls despite agreeing with the facts about unjustified delimitation, fake voters’ list and less count of population.

“The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami have proved that they are power hungry,” he said. “When they know and agree with our justified reservations, they in fact have decided to sell out the mandate of Karachi against the local government power. Now, one can well imagine their moral authority, power and resources to fix the problems of this city. They would never be able to stand firm with this unjust mandate.”

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2023

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