The first day of local government elections was full of remorse as many political parties accused the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of using its power to influence and rig the elections.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) accused Sukkur police of harassing their workers and stopping them from casting their votes in the local government elections. Speaking to The Express Tribune over the phone, party MPA Saleem Bandhani from Sukkur said, “It seems like the police are contesting the elections on behalf of the PPP.” In many union councils, MQM supporters were forced to leave the queues by the police and were not allowed to cast their votes, he said.
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PPP has rigged the election in many areas by using state machinery, said Pakistan Muslim League-Function leader Imtiaz Shaikh. Most of the election staff including district returning officers, presiding officers and police are under the influence of the ruling party. Some of our candidates were also arrested, he alleged. “How can anyone say that these are fair and free elections?”
The PPP has broken all past record of rigging in first phase of local government election, said Ismail Rahu, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz Sindh president. The ministers, MNAs, MPAs and senators of the party were given task to convince the bureaucracy and rig the polls, he claimed.
According to Jamaat-e-Islami information secretary Mujahid Channa, the ruling party used its influence and supported PPP candidates. “Our polling agents were stopped from entering the stations and some supporters from opposition parties harassed our women voters,” he claimed.
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Mustaqeem Noorani of the Jamiat Ulema e Pakistan- Noorani had similar complaints. “Our party candidates faced most problems in Sukkur, Larkana and Shikarpur,” he said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Arif Alvi said the ECP has failed to hold fair local government polls. “The Sindh government has converted Sindh into a police state.” He also claimed that PTI workers were stopped from entering stations in Jacobabad and Larkana.
Meanwhile, the PPP insisted the elections were fair. It was the first local government elections in the history of Pakistan that were held under a democratic government, said information minister Nisar Khuhro. PPP’s opponents realised their defeat and created menace in Khairpur district by killing 12 innocent voters, he claimed. The voters were punished for being loyal to the PPP, he claimed. “We have identified who are behind the Khairpur massacre.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2015.