KARACHI: In a re-emerging controversy surrounding the local government polls held in Karachi more than a month ago, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the two leading entities in the contest, came face-to-face on Thursday. The JI, a right wing opposition party, also accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of conniving with the ruling PPP in changing the results of the seats it had won during recounting, and warned the government of a sit-in across the city if the constitutional body failed to rectify the results of the Jan 15 polls and announce voting in the remaining 11 union councils.

The PPP, on the other hand, came up with a strong reaction over JI’s accusations and accused the JI of using threats and force as a tool to undermine and pressurise a legal process, being carried out by the ECP on complaints of certain candidates.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, Idara Noor-i-Haq, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman shared details of what he described as ‘post-poll rigging’ going on in the name of recounting on the seats which his party had won in Jan 15 polls.

“We will wait for another week to let the Election Commission rectify the results of the LG elections and announce polling in the remaining 11 union councils,” he said.

“If it doesn’t happen, we will go for a prolonged sit-in across the city from March 10. The Jamaat-i-Islami should not be mistaken for those who had sold out their mandate against posts and perks of administrators. We will safeguard our votes and restore our mandate.”

Hafiz Naeem repeats allegation of EC’s connivance with ruling party; Ghani asks him to stop propaganda

Hafiz Naeem referred to the “ill-intentions” of the PPP government in Sindh due to the alleged flaws in the process of recounting which was recently held in the UC-6, Safoora Town.

The bags carrying ballot papers, he said, were found torn but the returning officer and district returning officer did not bother to take notice of that despite the fact that their attention was drawn to the incidents.

“Similarly, all our 50 votes at a polling station were shown as rejected in the recounting as opposed to the Form 11 and 12,” added the JI chief.

“In the process, only those votes were shown as rejected in the recounting which were in favour of the JI. The RO and the DRO didn’t receive applications against flaws. They also refused to show the record of the remaining ballot papers.”

At one of the processes, he said, a sibling of a PPP candidate in a UC was appointed as presiding officer in the same UC. The ECP was responsible to appoint unbiased staffers after thorough examination, but the PPP government was pressuring government employees to manipulate the electoral process.

Hours after the JI press conference, Sindh Labour and Human Resource Minister Saeed Ghani, who is also the Karachi division president of PPP, accused the JI of using pressure tactics by telling lies and launching a propaganda campaign.

“Jamaat should adopt the democratic way to fight its case,” he said in a statement. “Time has changed now … no party can use threats, force and pressure as tools for its vested interests. The JI had managed to win mandate only under dictators’ rule in the past and enjoyed mayor’s office. The Karachi mayor office isn’t a piece of cake that could be presented to Jamaat on its desire. The JI is panicking only due to fair process of recounting.”

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023

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