The opposition Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf accused the ruling PPP of ‘manipulating results and changing original vote count through returning officers’ on Wednesday, pledging to continue their protests and struggle until the fair announcement of final election results. If the situation does not improve, the JI has threatened to expand its protest and launch a “massive” public drive. The results of Sindh’s second phase of LG elections, held on Sunday, are still mired in controversy, particularly those for Karachi.
According to the current count, the PPP has the most seats in the city, followed by the JI, and the PTI has the third most seats. The top leadership of the JI and PTI has cried foul, accusing the PPP of ‘post-poll rigging,’ as both parties claim the PPP ‘managed’ the results.
This political conflict has spilled onto the streets, with several demonstrations taking place in the city on Wednesday, while separate incidents saw violent clashes between PTI and JI supporters and PPP workers.
In response to the scuffles, an anti-terrorism case was filed against PTI leader Ali Zaidi and other members of his party, and an FIR was also filed against JI supporters.
While all protests should be peaceful, it is unwise to file terrorism charges against those who are protesting the results. Furthermore, the senior leaders of all three parties—the PPP, JI, and PTI—must be astute in these matters, or else political squabbles will escalate.
Party cadres should be advised to express themselves peacefully, and the ruling party of Sindh should not use the state apparatus to crack down violently on rivals. First, there must be agreement on the results.
The ECP has acknowledged that ‘irregularities’ have been discovered in at least six UCs, and in response to Jamaat-i-request Islami’s regarding the irregularities, the Election Commission summoned the district election commissioner, relevant winning candidates, relevant Returning Officers, District Returning Officers, and runner-up candidates to appear in the ECP on January 23. Once all legitimate concerns have been addressed, the three major parties must accept the results in good faith and proceed to the business of electing the mayor.
As things currently stand, the next mayor of Karachi will be elected after two of the metropolis’ top three vote-getters decide to join forces in the City Council. In this regard, while all three parties may be diametrically opposed in national politics, they must bury the hatchet for the sake of Karachi and work together to advance this blighted metropolis.
A city that is supposed to be Pakistan’s economic engine and shelter for all has been severely let down by all political forces in recent decades. The city has fared particularly poorly since the end of the Musharraf-era LG system. Crime is out of control, infrastructure is deteriorating, and sewage, water, and solid waste services have all failed to meet expectations.
As a result, the parties that have been given a mandate by the people of Karachi must reach an agreement on improving the lives of the residents, while the mayoralty should be an empowered office capable of addressing all of these significant challenges.