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PTI’s Firdous Shamim filmed opening ballot boxes as irregularities mar LG polls

Karachi, Hyderabad vote in local government elections after six years
A screengrab from a video shows PTI’s Firshous Shamim Naqvi opens a ballot box at a polling station in Karachi’s Soldier Bazaar on Sunday, January 15, 2023. via Aaj News
A screengrab from a video shows PTI’s Firshous Shamim Naqvi opens a ballot box at a polling station in Karachi’s Soldier Bazaar on Sunday, January 15, 2023. via Aaj News
PTI leader opens ballot box - Firdous Shamim Naqvi viral video - Aaj News
Staff at a polling station in Karachi on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
Staff at a polling station in Karachi on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
Polling for local government election begins across Sindh - Aaj News
Voters stand in a queue outside a polling station in Jamshoro, Sindh on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
Voters stand in a queue outside a polling station in Jamshoro, Sindh on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
A candidate of Tando Muhammad Khan during the local government elections in 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
A candidate of Tando Muhammad Khan during the local government elections in 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
A voter shows the mark afer casting his vote in local government elections in Karachi on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
A voter shows the mark afer casting his vote in local government elections in Karachi on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
Polling agents at a polling station in Karachi’s Malir on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News
Polling agents at a polling station in Karachi’s Malir on Sunday, January 15, 2023. Screengrab via Aaj News

PTI’s Firdous Shamim Naqvi was filmed on Sunday while opening ballot boxes at a polling station in Karachi’s Soldier Bazaar area during the local government polls. He demanded of the government and the country’s electoral authority to ensure a transparent election.

“All seals of the ballot boxes are open,” he said in a video uploaded on Twitter. “I am wandering since this morning with this plier [as] all seals are loose. They are so loose that even the presiding officers could not tighten the seal.”

Polling for local government elections in the 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad began on Sunday. Happening after six years, the process would lead to the election of members of the metropolitan corporation and town municipal corporations.

The voting process, which began at 8am, continued till 5pm without any interruption. However, the ECP extended the time at some places where polling had started late.

“This election is totally unprepared,” he said while alleging that polling staff was not present at the station. When the PTI leader tried to see the box, the polling staff said that their members were new and inexperienced.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has taken notice of the incident and ordered that Naqvi must be expelled from the polling station.

“This illegal action of the PTI leader is a violation of the code of conduct,” the ECP spokesperson said.

The country’s top electoral authority – the ECP – announced on Saturday that the second phase of LG elections would be held as planned after the Sindh government requested it to delay the polls. This was the second time the ECP had made the decision after the PPP-ruled government’s late Thursday night decision.

The last local bodies elections in the three cities were held in two phases, which started in December 2015 and culminated in August 2016. The Sindh-ruling Pakistan Peoples Party had won the LG elections in most districts of Sindh and grabbed the top slot of two – South and Malir – district municipal corporations out of the six in Karachi. The remaining four slots were bagged by the MQM

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had managed to win the elections for vice chairmen of Karachi’s South and West DMCs after making alliances with the PPP and MQM, respectively.

Numbers you need to know

  • Total voters: 13,283,696
  • Polling stations: 8,706 (1,204 for males, 1,170 for females, 6,332 joint, and 389 improvised)
  • LG elections are held in Karachi’s seven districts: Central, Korangi, Malir, West, South, East, and Kemari
  • 1,675 polling stations have been declared most sensitive and 3,115 sensitive – out of the total 4,990 – in Karachi
  • There are around 62,174 polling staff members
  • 43,605 policemen, 200 FC, and 500 Rangers are on duty

“The people and voters are requested to ensure a peaceful polling process during the local government elections. The election commission must ensure to strictly deal with any kind of interference and malice in the voting process,” Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja said in a statement.

“All institutions that establish law and order should live up to the public’s trust.”

MQM boycotts local body elections

In the wee hours of Sunday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement announced its decision to boycott the local government elections.

“Despite all efforts, the ECP did not hear our concern. An effort is being made to pin the citizens of Karachi to the wall. We request the voters to sit at home and boycott the elections,” MQM leader Khalid Maqbool said while addressing a press conference.

Just days before the elections, the three factions of MQM merged and their leaders said that they would do everything to block local bodies polls in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Leaders of the MQM also had meetings with its “coalition partner”, the PPP, on Saturday, however, it did not manage to convince the political party.

Maqbool described the elections as a “conspiracy”, alleging that the Jamaat-e- Islami was a “part” of this.

“Our participation in the election would mean that we have accepted the delimitations,” he said and wondered who was being given an open field to win elections through holding elections on incomplete voter lists.

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