KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement appeared poised to clinch the office of Karachi mayor when it won the biggest number of union commtittees in the city’s six districts and trounced the electoral alliance of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami on Saturday.
Polling was held in Karachi’s 209 union committees (UCs) for which all major parties — the MQM, PTI, JI, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — were in the run.
There are 51 UCs in Karachi’s Central district; 46 in West; 37 in Korangi; 31 each in East and South and 13 in Malir district.
The party that wins more than 105 UCs will be able to grab the mayor’s slot.
According to unofficial results from 180 UCs, the MQM won 130, followed by the PPP at 23, PTI (five), PML-N (four) and JI (three).
PTI-JI alliance ends up on losing side as Muttahida appears to be heading for big win
Dr Arif Alvi, the lone PTI MNA from Karachi, tweeted at 11.15pm that the “MQM has won a large number of UCs in Karachi. I congratulate them on this victory”.
The PPP, PTI and JI had fielded their city chiefs —Najmi Alam, Ali Zaidi and Hafiz Naeemur Rehman — for the post of union committee chairman in Karachi’s Clifton, Soldier Bazaar and North Nazimabad areas respectively. All of them lost.
The PPP conceded that Mr Alam had lost the election against a candidate of the PTI-JI alliance.
Karachi PTI president Mr Zaidi was defeated by the MQM candidate in UC-16, Soldier Bazaar.
A JI spokesman confirmed that the Karachi JI chief had lost the election against the MQM.
The MQM’s Waseem Akhtar emerged victorious on a seat for UC chairman in Lines Area.
Polling in the city was marred by accusations and counter-accusations of rigging, but the major contestants eventually accused the Election Commission of Pakistan of making inadequate arrangements.
While the ECP said it had made the best security arrangements possible, citing the deployment of Rangers at extremely sensitive polling stations, political workers clashed in many city areas. However, no casualty was reported. Fifteen people were caught for rigging and other violations.
The MQM accused the Muhajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi of rigging in Landhi and an MQM leader asked the provincial election commissioner to stop polling in seven UCs.
The PTI-JI alliance blamed the provincial election commissioner for widespread irregularities in the election that it said ultimately benefited the MQM.
Jamaat leader Naeemur Rehman and PTI’s Zaidi lashed out at the MQM and accused the party of massive rigging and occupying polling stations.
They condemned the non-deployment of Rangers inside the polling stations, but baulked at questioning the paramilitary force for not taking enough measures despite getting powers on Tuesday night to take action inside the polling stations.
“I have no other thought for a second when I blame the election commission for all this mess. There is no proper security as MQM workers were allowed to rig the elections,” said Mr Zaidi.
Without mincing words, he described the Muttahida as a “terrorist organisation” and a bunch of “extortionists and target killers”. “You people [MQM] should be ashamed of yourselves and those who voted for MQM should also be ashamed of themselves,” he added.
The JI leader said the ECP remained absent from the scene throughout the day as 47 applications of mismanagement and electoral fraud were submitted before it, but all went in vain. “A legitimate demand of PTI-JI alliance about deployment of Rangers and army in and outside polling booths went unheeded,” Naeemur Rehman said.