MQM-P boycotts LG elections in Sindh


KARACHI: In a late night development on Saturday, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan announced boycotting the local government elections in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Thatta divisions scheduled to be held on Sunday (today).

“Our reservations over the delimitation of local government constituencies have not been addressed despite several assurances from the provincial government,” MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said while addressing a news conference after attending a major huddle at the party’s Bahadurabad headquarter.Siddiqui was accompanied by Mustafa Kamal, Farooq Sattar, Aminul Haq, Faisal Sabzwari, Sadiq Iftikhar and others.

The MQM-P leaders said, “The Sindh government played its part in addressing our grievances but the Election Commission of Pakistan did not.”
Despite “our differences”, Siddiqui said, “we will stand with the government”.
Earlier during the day, the ECP again rejected the request of the Sindh government to postpone the LG elections, reiterating that they would be held as per schedule on Jan 15 (today).
A central control room has been established at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad, which will continue to function uninterruptedly until the results of the LG polls are announced.

On the letter of the Sindh government, the ECP held an important meeting in Islamabad on Saturday.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja participated through video link. ECP Secretary Omar Hameed and Provincial Election Commissioner from Karachi Ijaz Anwar Chauhan also participated in the meeting through video link. The ECP members and the relevant officers were in attendance.
After much deliberation, it was decided to hold the second phase of the LG elections in Sindh as per schedule.

A statement issued after the ECP meeting stated that the Sindh government’s message regarding the security concerns during second phase of the LG elections was considered. “The Sindh government should make foolproof arrangements for peaceful elections,” the ECP ordered.

The Sindh government’s letter stated a meeting was held in which security concerns faced by the political leaders and workers surfaced. The ECP secretary also participated in the meeting presided over by the Sindh chief secretary, it added. “The federal government has excused itself from the deployment of army and Rangers at the polling stations while the situation demands that their presence.”
On Friday, the ECP held an emergency meeting on the Sindh government’s request to postpone the LG polls in which it categorically stated that they would be held in Karachi, Hyderabad and Thatta divisions on Jan 15 (Sunday).Later, the Sindh government agreed with the ECP’s order and decided to hold the LG elections as per schedule.

The Sindh government directed the police and the district administration to fully cooperate with the ECP.
The MQM-P had objected to the delimitation of constituencies, after which it kept expressing its concerns with the PPP on several occasions. Later, when the LG elections’ date came near, the MQM-P was disappointed with the attitude of the PPP and threatened to part ways with the coalition government.

However, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif along with PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman contacted Siddiqui over the phone and assured him of addressing all concerns.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had also requested the MQM-P to take part in the LG elections.