• ECP official in Sindh says results still not finalised, may be done today
• Electoral watchdog rejects rigging, delay allegations as baseless

KARACHI: More than two days after polling in Karachi’s local government elections ended on Sunday evening, the contesting parties were still unsure about their mandate, with an official of the electoral watchdog in Sindh asserting that it might take another day to finalise the results.

In Islamabad, however, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday rejected as baseless the rigging allegations and insisted that accusations of delayed results were unfounded.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), which secured 86 seats according to results of Karachi’s all 235 union councils (UCs) announced on Monday, claimed a day later that it had won three more seats.

Similarly, the PPP claimed that its candidate in the union council No. 6 of Chanesar Town had been declared as the winner after a recount. The seat was earlier bagged by JI.

Without denying or confirming these claims, a spokesperson for the provincial election commission said the results were still being finalised, with chances of change in the party position shared on Monday evening.

“After the results are compiled by the presiding officers and polling staff, they go through a final scan under the returning officer,” said ECP official Ali Asghar Sial.

“So, by Monday night, the provisional results were announced, but they still had to go through the final process,” he said.

“That final process would hopefully be completed tonight [Tuesday] or early tomorrow [Wednesday]. I don’t know what the parties are claiming, but there are chances of change in party position once the results are finalised.”

With its fresh claims, the JI now further grew its position from Monday night’s 86 to 89, bringing the PPP number down to 90 from 93. A JI spokesperson said the party was formally informed by the ECP about the three more UCs — two in the West and one in the East district — after a recount where the PPP had been earlier declared winner “illegally” on Monday night.

The JI fresh win came after it went with an aggressive appro­ach, staging a sit-in outside the office of the deputy commissioner of West district. Several party workers, including women and children, were among the protesters, demanding “fair results” of the Jan 15 vote.

“After these three UCs, there are six more where we have won, but the PPP was declared as the winner,” said Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, the JI Karachi chief and its mayor candidate.

“We have documented proof against our claims. So, the way we succeeded in winning our claim due to the proof in these three UCs, we will win those six as well. There are more than a dozen other UCs where we have lost, but we have doubts. We will challenge their results and go for recounts. Our line is very clear — fair results first, then any dialogue.”

The PPP, on the other hand, has opted for a reconciliatory tone with JI. Without going into a controversy about the poll results, PPP’s Karachi President Saeed Ghani invited the JI to work together “in the best interest of Karachi”.

“Those who are surprised over the victory of the PPP in the local government elections are probably oblivious to the fact that five MNAs and seven MPAs of the party are from Karachi,” he told a press conference.

“The JI only has one MPA,” he said, insisting that it was the success of Jamaat-i-Islami, and not of PPP, that was surprising.

“Let me advise the Jamaat to formally challenge the election results in whichever constituency it has reservations. And at the same time, I invite them to work together for Karachi development,” Mr Ghani said.

ECP says ‘criticism unfounded’

Meanwhile, ECP spokeswoman Quratul Ain Fatima said in a statement on Tuesday the accusations over delayed results were also “unfounded and based on ignorance”.

“The Election Commission wants to make it clear that there was no delay in the results of the elections,” she remarked, reminding those hurling the allegations that it took three days to compile the results in the 2015 local government elections.

She stressed that it would be inappropriate to compare the local body elections with the general elections.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2023

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