• Alleges Aseefa’s win in NA-207 made possible by ‘candidate’s kidnapping’
• PPP insists PTI attempting to create ’unwarranted controversy

KARACHI: The PTI on Sunday announced boycotting Senate elections in Sindh, scheduled for April 2, alleging that pre-poll rigging could lead to the unopposed victory of all 12 candidates from the province, where the PPP enjoys majority.

The PTI’s Sindh chapter said the decision to boycott polls was made with consensus among the party leadership, which believes that after the Feb 8 elections, the PPP and its allies were “enjoying fake mandate” and the party was still being targeted for political vendetta.

“Senate elections are being won through rigging,” PTI leader Haleem Adil Sheikh said while addressing a press conference. “We fielded six candidates from Sindh (for Senate polls). And the fact is that if our mandate wouldn’t have been stolen on Feb 8, we could have won reserved seats of minorities and women as well.”

He questioned the justification of the Senate election, saying, “You have alre­ady twisted the mandate of the parties in the assemblies that have to elect these senators. The Feb 8 rigging emerges as pre-poll rigging for the Senate elections.”

The PTI Sindh leaders said the recent unopposed election of PPP’s Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari from the National Assembly constituency NA-207 was “just a reflection” of their apprehensions.

“Our candidate from NA-207 was kidnapped and forced to withdraw his nomination,” said Ali Palh Advocate, the secretary general of PTI Sindh.

“How can you expect free and fair elections in such a situation? Those who won elections as per Form 45 are not part of the Sindh Assembly. The PTI-backed candidates were made to lose the elections through the tampered Form 47. We won 180 seats in the general elections, but most of them were taken away,” he added.

With the PTI’s boycott, PPP will likely win 10 seats from Sindh in the upcoming Senate election and one by MQM-P. It is, however, unclear whether independent candidate Faisal Vawda could muster enough votes to win the Senate poll on a general seat.

The 11 candidates fielded by PPP include Syed Masroor Ahsan, Syed Kazim Ali Shah, Jeean Khan Sarfaraz Rajar, Nadeem Ahmed Bhutto, Dost Ali Jessar, Ashraf Ali Jatoi, Sarmad Ali, Zamir Hussain Ghumro, Poonjo, Quratul Ain Marri and Rubina Qaimkhani. Amir Chishti is MQM-P’s only candidate.

‘Unwarranted controversy’

At a press conference in Bilawal House, PPP leaders said that the PTI was attempting to create unwarranted controversy around the uncontested victory of Aseefa in NA-207.

Sindh Home Minister Zia Lanjar, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani and other leaders emphasised that the PTI should gracefully acknowledge its defeat.

“If by-elections were conducted, Bibi Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari would have undoubtedly secured between 150,000 to 250,000 votes,” Mr Ghani said.

He dismissed the allegations of abduction of the PTI candidate in the NA-207 by-election as unfounded and baseless, firmly refuting such claims.

He clarified that the rejection of PTI candidate Sher Muhammad Rind’s nomination forms stemmed from his court-declared status as an absconder in a Balochistan case, whereas his son and covering candidate, Bahawal Rind, faced rejection for failing to disclose his assets in accordance with legal requirements.

Mr Ghani also refuted Ghulam Mustafa Rind’s claim of abduction before the elections as baseless. He said that the nomination forms of Mr Mustafa’s, an independent candidate, were rejected due to his status as a defaulter of a power distribution company, Hesco.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2024

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