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The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has retained both its provincial assembly seats in Karachi and Sanghar contested in Tuesday’s by-polls after a campaign tainted by violence and dominated by political controversy.
Polling for the PS-88 Malir Karachi by-polls—that was slated a hot race between the PPP and PTI — was stained by allegations of vote-rigging, violence and intimidation as all racing parties traded accusations against each other. The PS-88 had fallen vacant after the death of provincial minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch due to the covid-19 in June 2020.
Total votes and candidates
At least 16 independent candidates were also contesting the by-elections, as well PPP’s Muhammad Yousuf Baloch, PTI’s Jansher Junejo, MQM-P’s Sajid Ahmed, and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s Syed Kashif Ali.
The constituency has a total of 145,627 registered voters including 81,425 male and 64,202 female voters. The election commission has set up 108 polling stations, while 33 have been declared ‘most sensitive’ and 27 ‘sensitive’ during the by-election.
Poll marred by incidents of violence
During the polling, the situation remained tense in different localities falling in Karachi’s Malir where incidents of violence were reported for which both the PPP and the PTI blamed each other.
The polling started at 8: 00 am and continued till 5: 00 pm under strict security steps. Although, following several incidents of violence, the Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Haleem Adil Sheikh, was apprehended by Malir police for violating the orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) amid the voting process.
A statement of Haleem Adil was released following his arrest; in the video statement, Sheikh said that he had been informed of his arrest by SSP Malir.
He said as Leader of the Opposition, he should have been given security however, instead, that was withdrawn on the orders of Zardari and Bilawal, Haleem Adil further claimed that he was not present in the constituency when his activists were attacked.
Sheikh’s arrest condemned
Soon after Sheikh’s arrest, Governor Sindh Imran Ismail denounced Sheikh’s arrest. Governor said Haleem Adil is the leader of the opposition and is being treated like a criminal. Is it a crime to contest elections in Sindh?” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Faisal Subzwari, MQM-Pleader also condemned Sheikh’s arrest and termed it an effort to influence the electoral process. The MQM-P leader also leveled allegations of rigging in favour of the candidate of the PPP.
Likewise, allegations against the ruling party in Sindh were also levelled by TLP’s leader Kashif Shah. While expressing their resentment over Sheikh’s arrest, a group of federal ministers, PTI MNAs and MPAs staged a sit-in outside the Sindh Chief Minister’s House.
They raised slogans against CM Syed Murad Ali Shah and termed Sheikh’s arrest as part of PPP’s policy to victimize its opponents. There was no statement from the ECP to countercheck the police claims and later it transpired that the police arrested Sheikh in an old case.
The PPP has managed to secure a comfortable win in Karachi’s PS-88 Malir and PS-43, Sanghar by-elections for a seat in the Sindh Assembly. According to the unofficial results, PPP’s Yousuf Murtaza Baloch was in the lead with more than 24,000 votes, followed by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) Syed Kashif Ali Shah with a little over 6,000 votes. PTI’s Jan Sher Junejo trailed behind with close to 5,000 votes.
On the other hand, the PPP’s candidate for PS-43, Sanghar, Shabeer Ali won the election by a huge margin against Grand Democratic Alliance’s (GDA) candidate Mushtaq Junejo. According to unofficial results, Jam Shabeer Ali won the by-poll by securing 48,032 votes against PTI ally GDA’s Mushtaq Junejo, who managed merely 6,922 votes.
According to unofficial results, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) candidate won the PB-20 Pishin by-polls. Agha, who enjoyed the support of the PDM alliance, secured 8,742 votes, defeating Asmat Tareen of the Balochistan Awami Party, who managed 4,876 votes.
Possible reasons for the defeat of the PTI
In fact, Malir was the PPP’s stronghold as Murtaza Baloch of PPP had won the seat by securing 22,561 votes against 16,386 of the runner-up, Captain (retd) Muhammad Rizwan Khan of PTI In the 2018 general election.
However, vote-rigging possibilities cannot be ignored in the case of Haleem Adil’s arrest. Sheikh’s arrest is being termed as part of PPP’s policy to victimize its opponents. The use of police force against PTI during the polls is also a matter of concern as without the permission of the Sindh Assembly’s speaker, how can police arrest the opposition leader?
On the other hand, reacting to the PPP win in PS-43, Sanghar several independent figures accused the PPP candidate of being fully supported by the Sindh government that utilized the state machinery in the by-election. During the voting, clashes erupted between the supporters of both sides.
Today, the biggest problem facing the common man is inflation and rising prices of essential commodities which the PTI government has not yet been able to control, which could be a possible factor to face defeat with a huge margin.
The PPP’s victory in Sindh was already considered fateful, but the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s victory in Pishin is certainly a question mark over the PTI’s popularity and performance.