The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) was urged by a number of political parties, including its main allies, early on Sunday to reconsider its decision to boycott the second round of the local government (LG) elections, which are set to take place today in a number of Sindh districts as well as in the Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.
Hours before the polls were set to take place, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced boycotting the “already rigged” polls after his party held marathon consultations with different stakeholders.
The party’s statement came after it had demanded fresh delimitation before holding the local body elections, and despite the Sindh government’s announcement to delay the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) insisted that they go ahead — on January 15 — without further interruption.
In a press conference, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Emir Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman said that the MQM-P should have gone ahead and contested the LG elections.
“Every political party has reservations. Jamaat also has reservations about the delimitation of constituencies, voters’ lists, and census in Sindh,” the JI leader said.
However, he noted that the MQM-P was involved in the approval of the census during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. But he added that now, it is incumbent upon the government and the ECP to ensure that elections are held peacefully.
Rehman censured the MQM-P and said the party gets upset when it faces failure “in its bargain”. “We would acknowledge that the party is strong if they had left the government.”
“It is my desire that the MQM-P should join the electoral arena so that it knows where it stands today,” he said, adding that the party’s workers are not standing by it.
Rehman also emphasised that the JI would emerge as a major party in Karachi. The party will form the local government and take everyone along after success in the elections, he said.
PML-N leader and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan regretted the MQM-P’s decision to boycott the elections. However, he said the party is justified in its decision, he said.
In getting their demands met, the MQM-P struggled continuously and they also convinced the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with arguments in their case, he said. PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari also conceded the legitimacy of their demands and directed his party to cooperate with the party, Sanaullah said.
The federal minister also criticised the ECP, saying it had failed to fulfil its duty when one union council was formed with 90,000 voters on the list and the other with only 15,000 of them.
Muttahida’s decision to withdraw from the elections has “discredited” the electoral process, he said. Now, local body elections “lack the credibility and democratic values they should have”, he explained.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Sindh President Ali Zaidi took a jibe at the MQM-P’s decision and said the party would not quit the government. He said that the MQM-P had a plausible excuse to boycott the elections.
The PTI leader added: “We had already said that the MQM-P would boycott the elections. The party does not have candidates to field in the elections.”
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon expressed regret over the MQM-P’s decision and said his party wanted the MQM-P to contest elections.
He called on the party to reconsider its decision, saying that the PPP tried its utmost to address the reservations of the MQM-P.