Rise of Muttahida, GDA’s defeat in election surprise voters in Sindh

Published February 10, 2024
Supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (left) and Pakistan Peoples Party celebrate the victory of their candidates in the Feb 8 general elections, in different areas of Karachi on Friday.—AFP
Supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (left) and Pakistan Peoples Party celebrate the victory of their candidates in the Feb 8 general elections, in different areas of Karachi on Friday.—AFP

KARACHI / HYDERABAD: The people of Sindh have given their mandate to the PPP in the Feb 8 election as it is aspiring to form government in the province for the fourth consecutive term.

On one hand, the polls helped the past ruling party of the second largest province of the country to strengthen its mandate, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan regain its lost ground in urban centres. However, the Grand Democratic Alliance received a serious dent in rural areas where it even lost in its strongholds.

In Karachi the fresh polls proved a major setback and shock for voters, who went to bed on Thursday night expecting their voted candidates to win, but found out on Friday evening that their chosen candidates had been declared defeated.

There were shocks and upsets and for a few pleasant surprises when the official results started to pour in on Friday evening which were largely described as “controversial and manipulated”.

With the PPP leading with 84 out of total 130 seats in the Sindh Assembly, the results which were mostly announced after more than 24 hours of the voting, suggested that the Feb 8 elections made a dent on decades-long repute of some parties and contestants and gave mandate to those who didn’t enjoy victorious electoral history in Karachi or other parts of Sindh.

PPP retains majority in Sindh Assembly; PTI-backed independents win 14 PA seats in Karachi

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which won 23 seats of the Sindh Assembly in 2018, was out of contest after losing its iconic electoral symbol ‘bat’ after a supreme court ruling.

The party backed its workers and local leaders as independent candidates across Karachi.

The PTI though put up a good show, the independents with majority backed by it only won 14 seats from the city.

The MQM-P, however, gained in terms of mandate as it won 26 Sindh Assembly seats, 17 of them were from Karachi.

The MQM-P had won a total of 16 Sindh Assembly seats in 2018 general elections.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, which managed to win only one seat of Sindh Assembly from Karachi in 2018 general elections while contesting from the platform of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, won two seats in the Feb 8 polls.

The most significant among the two was its Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman, who emerged as victorious from North Nazimabad constituency as a member of the Sindh Assembly.

With its head high, the PPP romped home with increased tally of Sindh Assembly seats — 83 till going to press out of 130 directly contested ones — in Feb 8 polls, followed by MQM-P which bagged 26 Sindh Assembly seats and then mostly PTI-backed independent candidates, who emerged as victorious on 14 seats.

The PPP has made a comeback in its erstwhile stronghold of Badin, one of coastal districts of Sindh.

The GDA has been routed in Badin at least as per initial results.

The GDA’s 2018 polls score was one seat each in Ghotki, Shikarpur, Larkana, Naushahro Feroze, Badin and Tharparkar.

It won two seats in Khairpur and three in Sanghar. The GDA had won two main seats here — one each of National and Sindh Assembly in July 2015 polls thanks to the Mirza family’s strong footprints there.

In July 2018 the PPP had obtained 77 directly contested seats of Sindh Assembly to form government comfortably.

Now it is returning to elected house with a massive mandate. The major setback was suffered by the GDA whose numerical strength has now plummeted from 11 in 2018 to just two in 2024.

The GDA was not alone in getting surprises.

Its ally MQM-P got one, too. While MQM was indeed able to reclaim its previously lost Latifabad’s constituency (now PS-62) through Sabir Kaimkhani which had gone to PPP’s Jabbar Khan in 2018, MQM lost another traditional seat of Latifabad’s Sindh constituency (PS-63) to PTI backed independent Rehan Rajput by a huge margin.

The MQM’s Kamran Qureshi got 1,1000 votes against Rajput’s 40,000 votes. Latifabad one of the nine towns of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) in addition to Paretabad town was grabbed by PTI-backed town chairman in Jan 15, 2023 LG polls.

But the question arises about the transparency of voting process, fairness of results and most importantly about the Feb 8 elections’ true reflection of Karachi mandate.

For analysts and journalists, despite all attempts and arguments, the people mainly in Karachi aren’t convinced with the results.

Most of the reactions came over the social media platforms where some vent out their anger rejecting the Karachi results and others calling for harmony while accepting the “original mandate” of the business capital.

“In these elections, the winners are those teenage boys and girls, who cast their votes first time in their lives,” said journalist and analysts Faisal Hussain in a post on platform X [formerly Twitter] after the results announcement over television channels suddenly came to a halt in early hours of Friday.

“They spent sleepless night, got up early in the morning and took their parents and grandparents along to cast the vote. Please accept the victory of this young generation. They are our kids. Mostly importantly they are Pakistanis. They are our future.”

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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