PTI and PPP workers clashed outside the Keamari deputy commissioner’s (DC) office in Karachi on Wednesday, pelting either side with stones during the consolidation of the results of the recently held local government elections in Sindh.
The second phase of the local government elections was held in 16 districts of Sindh on Sunday. However, major contesting parties — including the ruling PPP — had raised concerns raised concerns over an unusual delay in the results in Karachi and blamed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for mismanagement.
The ECP took more than 36 hours to announce the results of 236 union committees of Karachi as the opposition PTI and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) accused the provincial administration of “rigging and managing things” in its favour.
On Wednesday, the PTI accused the PPP of attacking its workers while the Keamari DC maintained that PTI workers forcibly entered the office and harassed staff.
Keamari DC Mukhtiar Abro, who is also the district returning officer stated that the PTI workers had “encircled” his office.
He alleged that PTI’s Ali Haider Zaidi and others forcibly entered the premises and broke the locks. “The PTI workers ransacked the computer and harassed staff including female returning officers who were busy performing their electoral duty,” he said.
He further said that PTI workers threw stones and broke the windows of several vehicles. He said police took action against the hooliganism and removed the party workers from the DC office.
Abro said a first information report would be lodged against PTI leaders and workers over the incident.
A handout issued by the Keamari police said SSP Fida Hussain Janwari had reached the spot and brought the situation under control.
The statement said district police arrived at the scene with water cannons and other equipment to deal with any emergency situation. It added that the situation was currently under control and all political workers had been dispersed.
Separately, Talha Hashmi revealed that a reporter and a cameraman had sustained injuries during the clash. He said that the two were provided first aid at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and were later shifted to Aga Khan University.
Zaidi, on the other hand, alleged that he had gone to meet his candidates and talk to the press when PPP “goons prepared with stones and under full protection of Sindh police attacked”.
“Media men and PTI workers sustained injuries,” he said.
Zaidi stated PTI workers were camped outside the DC office since Monday, awaiting the official results. He said that he had visited the office to talk to party workers.
“They already had PPP goons stationed there with sticks and stones, and as soon as I was set to begin talking to the media, they started throwing them,” he said.
Zaidi alleged that the hooliganism occurred with “police protection”.
PTI Karachi leader Alamgir Khan alleged that PPP workers entered the DC office and vandalised the place, adding that a party worker was “severely injured” in the violence.
PTI Senator Faisal Javed also strongly condemned the incident, saying that it was an example of “hooliganism at its peak”. He urged the courts to take notice of the incident.
PTI Karachi president Bilal Ghaffar announced a protest for outside the DC office and instructed party workers to reach the site at 8pm. “The PTI will protest against the Sindh government’s use of official machinery in local elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, PPP Senator Waqar Mehdi said that electoral staff were busy compiling and consolidating the results of the LG polls when the PTI workers, led by Zaidi, Bilal Ghaffar and others, “resorted to hooliganism and attacked PPP workers who were also present there”.
“The PTI workers also ransacked the offices,” he added. Mehdi said the police had brought the situation under control.
The senator accused the PTI of “creating chaos” in the metropolis as they could “not tolerate their defeat” in the LG polls.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said condemned the attack by PTI “cronies”.
“After [a] historical defeat, PTI is going crazy and as usual their tolerance level is going low,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ECP took notice of irregularities in six Karachi union councils — three in Orangi Town and one each in Mominabad, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and Manghopir — on the JI’s request.
The ECP fixed their cases for hearing on January 23 (Monday) and issued notices to Sindh Election Commissioner Ejaz Anwar Chauhan, the district returning officers, returning officers, winning candidates and the runner-up candidates of the UCs concerned.
Unofficial results of the LG polls showed them to be a ‘one-sided affair’ as PPP was poised to win most seats in nine districts of Hyderabad division and easily bring its mayor to head the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) for the first time in recent past.
However, the contesting parties in Karachi remained unsure about their mandate on Tuesday, with an official of the electoral watchdog in Sindh asserting that it might take another day to finalise the results.
JI, which secured 86 seats according to results of Karachi’s all 235 union councils (UCs) announced on Monday, claimed on Tuesday that it had won three more seats.
Similarly, the PPP claimed that its candidate in the union council No. 6 of Chanesar Town had been declared as the winner after a recount. The seat was earlier bagged by JI.
Without denying or confirming these claims, a spokesperson for the provincial election commission said the results were still being finalised, with chances of change in the party position shared on Monday evening.
With its fresh claims, the JI now further grew its position from Monday night’s 86 to 89, bringing the PPP number down to 90 from 93. A JI spokesperson said the party was formally informed by the ECP about the three more UCs — two in the West and one in the East district — after a recount where the PPP had been earlier declared winner “illegally” on Monday night.
Meanwhile, ECP spokeswoman Quratul Ain Fatima said in a statement on Tuesday the accusations over delayed results were also “unfounded and based on ignorance”.
“The Election Commission wants to make it clear that there was no delay in the results of the elections,” she remarked, reminding those hurling the allegations that it took three days to compile the results in the 2015 local government elections.
She stressed that it would be inappropriate to compare the local body elections with the general elections