- Over 3.4m people exercising their right to vote.
- Polling began at 8am and will go on till 5pm.
- Polls are being held without MQM-P.
After much delay and uncertainty surrounding the second phase of local government polls in Sindh, polling has kicked off in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions with over 3.4 million people exercising their right to vote to elect their local governments.
The polling began at 8am and will go on till 5pm. It is taking place in seven districts of Karachi and nine districts of the Hyderabad division.
The road to the local government elections proved to be bumpy as it took three postponements, litigation and political fights before the polls could finally be held.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Karachi President Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman, after casting his vote, appreciated the law enforcement agencies for keeping peace in Karachi during the polls.
Rehman claimed that some people burned the camps in some places, however, voters are still reaching their respective polling stations. “No untoward incident has been reported from [Districts] Central and East,” he added.
He claimed that the people want a JI member to be elected as mayor.
Talking about the MQM-P’s decision to boycott the elections, the JI president said that the party has run away from the polls.
ECP takes notice of Sindh govt’s ads being run on TV
Sindh Election Commissioner Aijaz Anwar Chohan took notice of the advertisements running on different channels of the provincial government, calling it a violation of the code of conduct.
The election commissioner said that the advertisements were related to different schemes.
Chohan said that these advertisements should immediately be stopped for today.
‘Polls being spoiled’
There were reports of polling being delayed in certain areas due to one reason or another.
Reacting to the delay, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar claimed that the election staff has not reached some of the polling stations.
He alleged that efforts are being made to spoil the polls.
During today’s elections, the assistant presiding officer will issue two ballot papers — green and blue — for the chairman and vice chairman union council and general members ward union council.
The polling is being held in 246 union committees in seven districts of Karachi (Central, West, East, South, Korangi, Keamari and Malir).
About 2,551 candidates are contesting the polls in Hyderabad, 1,436 in Dadu, 839 in Jamshoro, 781 in Tando Allahyar, 715 in Matiari and 452 candidates in Tando Muhammad Khan.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) spokesperson, about 8,706 polling stations have been set up for the local body polls with 1,204 for males and 1,170 for females.
As per the spokesperson, 389 are improvised polling stations.
PPP, PTI leaders cast vote
Meanwhile, Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary party leader Khurrum Sher Zaman cast their votes in UC 8 and District South UC 12, respectively.
Zaman, speaking to media persons, said that the people of Karachi will decide their future for the next four years today.
Criticising the MQM-P, the PTI leader said that the party — whose leader held the mayorship for four years — boycotted the elections.
ECP expels PTI leader from polling station
The ECP took notice of PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi for breaking the seal of ballot boxes, and issuing directives to expel Naqvi from the polling station.
A video of Naqvi opening the seal of a ballot box amid voting in a bid to affect the polling process in Karachi went viral.
As per details, the incident took place in the polling station of UC ward 4 of the Soldier Bazar area of the city.
Reacting to the matter, PPP wrote a letter to the ECP to lodge a complaint against Naqvi for violation of election rules.
PPP leader Taj Haider said that the video clip of the incident shows Naqvi opening the ballot box. He urged the ECP for immediate notice and action against the PTI leader.
The Election Commission said that the seals of the ballot boxes were broken in union council 2 of the tehsil municipal committee Jinnah.
This is an illegal act and a violation of the ECP’s code of conduct, said the electoral body.
More than 43,605 law enforcement officials and personnel are performing their duties under the security plan devised by the Sindh government.
According to the spokesperson of the province’s police, 26,050 officers and personnel have been deployed on election duty at 4,997 polling stations in the city.
Apart from the law enforcement agency, the spokesperson informed that 200 Frontier Constabulary and 500 rangers personnel have also been deployed for election duty.
All possible measures are being taken to protect the life and property of citizens, the spokesperson stated.
More than 43,605 Karachi police personnel are performing security duty on the day of polling of which 17,588 have been posted in the East zone. Meanwhile, 6,533, 4,837, and 6,218 comprising officers, personnel and staff have been deployed in the District East, Malir, and Korangi, respectively.
The spokesperson added that 11,627, 2,155, 4558 and 4914 personnel have been stationed in the South Zone, District South, District Central, and Keamari, respectively.
Deployment of officers, personnel and staffers in the West Zone, District Central, and District West totalled 14,390, 9,672, and 4,718, respectively.
About 3,800 traffic police personnel have also been performing their duties. They have been deployed to assist the administration at the polling stations.
Control room up and running
The ECP has established a central control room for three days at the Islamabad Election Commission Secretariat to oversee the LG polls.
As many as 16 complaints have so far been registered in the control room, ECP spokesperson said. He said that 13 out of 16 complaints have been addressed.
Interestingly, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) — one of the most popular parties in the two cities — announced a boycott of the elections late Saturday night.
The party’s decision came after the failure of day-long consultations — over the demand for fresh delimitation — with the provincial government.
Keeping in view MQM-P’s demand, the Sindh government for the second time tried to defer the polls via a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier on Saturday.
However, the electoral body didn’t budge from the Sindh government’s letter to request deferral and decided to hold the polls as per schedule.
MQM-P Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool alongside the party’s senior leadership said that the local body elections have already been rigged. ” Accordingly, we refuse to recognise the polls,” he said.