• PML-N, JUI-F join MQM-P, GDA chorus of complaints against ECP
• Bashir Memon hints at challenging delimitation
• Muttahida delegation calls on CEC in Islamabad
• GDA seeks CJP’s role in ensuring free, fair polls
KARACHI/LARKANA/ISLAMABAD: The Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) on Monday joined the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in their criticism against the final delimitation of electoral constituencies and demanded that the Sindh election commissioner be removed forthwith.
All the major parties in Sindh, except the Pakistan Peoples Party, have expressed serious concerns on the delimitation announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Nov 30 and accused Sindh Election Commissioner Aijaz Anwar Chauhan of accepting all objections of the PPP by rejecting theirs.
On Monday, the MQM-P called on Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in Islamabad to demand replacement of Sindh Election Commissioner Chauhan, while the GDA, PML-N and JUI-F held separate press conferences in Karachi and Larkana to air their concern over his role in what they described facilitating the PPP.
The four parties rejected delimitation in their respective strongholds and saw it a conspiracy to rig the 2024 general elections in favour of the PPP.
JUI-F terms delimitation pre-poll rigging
In Larkana, JUI-F leader Rashid Mehmood Soomro bitterly criticised the ECP for the present delimitations and accused it of ignoring all objections and proposals and announced the delimitations to favour the PPP.
Terming it gerrymandering and pre-poll rigging, he vowed to fight against the injustices.
Mr Soomro warned if ladlas (favorites) were imposed in Sindh in the general election, not only his party but other political stakeholders too would stage protests sit-ins outside the ECP offices.
He said that the provincial election commissioner was ‘partial’ and he must be removed for making upcoming polls transparent.
PML-N terms fresh exercise ‘fraud’
Rejecting the fresh delimitation in Sindh, the PML-N accused the provincial chief of the ECP of manipulating the process only to benefit PPP.
Speaking at a press conference in Karachi, PML-N Sindh president Bashir Memon said that the fresh delimitation had not served the purpose of the digital census and it all came out as a “fraud” with the people of Sindh.
“And the man behind this all fraud exercise is the Sindh election commissioner,” he said. “We don’t accept these delimitations and hope that the CEC would pay heed and take notice of this fraud exercise. Otherwise, we’re left only with the option but to challenge these delimitations in courts.”
He also accused the caretaker Sindh government of negating the impression of impartiality through its support to the PPP.
GDA urges CJP to ensure fair polls
Also on Monday, GDA leaders Dr Safdar Abbasi, Hasnain Mirza and others held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club and said that the fair and transparent general election was not possible without removing its objections on the fresh delimitation.
It also urged the chief justice of Pakistan to play his role to ensure free and fair elections.
Dr Abbasi warned the caretaker government and the ECP if their concerns were not removed before the upcoming general election, the system would be disrupted across the country, including Sindh.
He said that the PPP had had deliberately made changes in constituencies which were GDA strongholds. “It is being done to keep the opponents away from the electoral process,” he said and added that but the GDA was not going to be fooled by these tricks and would fully fight the situation.
“If conducting elections within 90 days is a constitutional binding, then conducting fair and transparent elections is also a constitutional right,” they said.
CEC hears MQM-P concerns
In Islamabad, an MQM-P delegation met the CEC and apprised him of their concerns regarding the final report of delimitation of constituencies. The meeting took place on the invitation of the CEC. The MQM-P delegation was led by party convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Later, Dr Siddiqui told the media that they were hopeful of getting justice from the CEC.
However, he said that his party had serious reservations on the Sindh election commissioner.
Senior MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar apprised the media of changes that the Sindh election commission had made in the electoral constituencies in Karachi and Hyderabad at the behest of the PPP.
Dr Siddiqui said that the Sindh election commission did not accept any objections filed by the MQM and other parties and only facilitated the PPP.
He also criticised the caretaker set-up in Sindh and alleged that former ministers of the PPP were running the interim government.
Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023