Aug 06, 2018

Sindh: Opposition Laments Rigging in Pakistan General Elections

Alleging massive rigging in the Pakistani General Elections that took place on 25 July 2018, the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and other allied parties have called for protests in the Sindh Region of Pakistan. Given its last 10 years of bad governance, protesters questioned how the Pakistan People Party (PPP) could have won 76 of more than 160 provincial assembly seats. Rejected by the people of Sindh who have been left in miserable conditions for the last 10 years of the PPP’s mandate, activists condemned the most recent election and demand their votes to be recast. In light of these and other allegations of electoral fraud, UNPO urges the international community to pay close attention to future elections in Pakistan.

This article was originally published by The Express Tribune

The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and other allied parties took to the streets in various parts of Sindh on Friday to reject the results of the 2018 general elections in chorus. Their leaders remonstrated that the elections were massively rigged, terming the process ‘selection’ in the guise of election.

“Na manzoor, na mazoor dhandli wale elections na manzoor [we don’t accept, we don’t accept, the rigged elections we don’t accept],” shouted thousands of protesters who gathered for a sit-in in Hyderabad on Friday [3 August 2018]. The supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party-Workers (PPP-Workers), Qaumi Awami Tehreek and MMA, among other parties, participated in the demonstration.

“The people of Sindh have vociferously rejected the rigged elections through their protests across the province,” asserted GDA General Secretary Ayaz Latif Palijo. “The people will not accept the Sindh Assembly whose members have been elected through rigging.”

He alleged that the PPP was given an engineer result in its favour on a silver platter. Palijo urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the rampant manipulation. “The GDA demands fresh elections in Sindh.” He deplored that the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency have given a free hand to the PPP’s leaders who are charged in several corruption cases.

An electoral coalition comprising GDA, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), MMA and other nationalist parties and influential political figures was pitted against the PPP in Sindh. However, the PPP triumphed, bagging 37 National Assembly seats and 76 provincial assembly seats in Sindh.

“The army chief, chief justice and chief election commissioner had assured that the election will be fair and transparent. But all of them failed,” alleged Naheed Khan, a leader of the PPP-Workers.

MMA Hyderabad President Hafiz Tahir Majeed said that the announcement of the election result was deliberately delayed to pave way for the victory of a particular party. “If selection had to take place then why did the ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan] waste Rs20 billion over the election process?” he questioned.

In the Larkana district, thousands of MMA supporters staged a sit-in at Jinnah Bagh. “Khalai Makhlooq [aliens] were visible in all of Pakistan, including Sindh [on the election day], robbing the people’s mandate,” alleged Molana Rashid Mehmood Soomro, MMA Sindh’s president.

He went on to claim that the rigging was pre-planned. “The results were changed in the dark of the night.” Soomro said the MMA wanted to establish supremacy of the civilian institutions and strengthen democracy in Pakistan.

Speaking at the GDA and Sindh United Party protest in Benazirabad district, Syed Zain Shah said the returning officers, assistant returning officers and presiding officers connived to change the results. “The election results were hijacked so that they can be tampered in PPP’s favour.”

Thousands of people gathered outside the RO’s office in Jamshoro district to register their protest. They later staged a token sit-in on the Indus Highway. “Our victory was changed into defeat with the help of the presiding officers,” alleged Dr Sikandar Shoro and Malak Changez Khan, who contested as independent candidates and secured the second highest votes against PPP’s Malik Asad Sikandar and Gianchand Esrani.

Shoro said the people of Jamshoro rejected the feudal lords who have been ruling the city for several decades but the polling staff snatched their mandate. Demonstrations were also held in Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Badin, Tando Allahyar, Dadu and other districts of Sindh.

Meanwhile, the GDA leadership and hundreds of its party workers and supporters condemned the results in a protest outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC).

They said they will carry out a movement across the province if their demands were not met.

The GDA leadership demanded resignation of the election commissioner and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu action while protesting outside KPC on Friday.

“The GDA will never accept the results of the rigged elections. The ECP has to tell people under whose pressure they had to change the results after July 25 midnight,” said senior politician and GDA candidate Ghous Ali Shah.

According to him, their opponent candidates from PPP were not able to campaign as people had rejected them. He questioned how PPP won the elections during an anti-PPP wave, which started due to bad governance by the party for the last 10 years in Sindh.

Rejecting the election results in Sindh, the leaders of the GDA demanded fresh elections in the province.

GDA Information Secretary Sardar Rahim said that ‘historic rigging’ took place to steal the mandate of the people of Sindh.

According to Rahim, if the party’s demands were not met, they would carry out a shutter down protest across the province on the call of Pir Pagara.

 “Massive pre-poll rigging took place and the nation was made a fool of in the elections,” he said, alleging that the results were tampered with.

The GDA leaders present at the protest included Shah, Rahim, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Arshad Shar. MMA leaders Molana Abdul Baloch, Molana Noorul Haq and Qari Usman also spoke to the media and protested against the alleged rigging in the general elections.

Meanwhile, MMA’s candidate for the NA-200 seat, Soomro, alleged that his mandate was stolen by the ECP by giving artificial victory to another party’s candidate.

He was addressing a large rally which was taken out from Dodai Road in Larkana on Friday.

Soomro said the people of Sindh spent the last ten years in extremely miserable conditions. Even their basic necessities were snatched by the corrupt rulers, he said.

He alleged that some elements and conspirators got the results changed as they did not want them to serve the masses.

“Our opponents were not even able to go door-to-door for their election campaign as they had nothing to tell the citizens after a dismal performance of 10 years,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Oxfam International @Flickr