Sindh LG Polls
The first phase of local body elections in Sindh came to end on Sunday with candidates of the PPP trailing ahead of their opponents based on unofficial election results. Despite the fact that the PPP emerged as a clear winner with the highest number of winning candidates, the results are being called into question by the opposition as the elections were unfortunately marred by firing, scuffles and deaths.
According to reports, at least two people were killed and several others were injured on the polling day, which also reportedly witnessed the kidnapping of polling staff members by armed bandits. As had been anticipated earlier, Sukkur, Sanghar and Tharpakar emerged as the flashpoints of violence. In addition to this, there were rigging allegations and reports of assaults on election camps, which raises questions over the oversight of the ECP and the security administration.
As expected, the provincial government has dismissed these allegations and has described the opposition’s demand to reject the election and call a fresh one as an “escape” after the parties failed to field candidates in all districts. Whether the PPP was steamrolling the opposing parties in the election is irrelevant considering how the process was plagued by such serious issues. Moreover, the Sindh Information Minister’s argument that the scale of violence was ‘nominal’ compared to previous elections does not hold much weight either, as we must have higher benchmarks and cannot afford to normalise such incidents.
The PPP should avoid downplaying the incidents that took place, and it is important to point out that even the MQM—an ally of the coalition—is questioning the election results. At the very least, in the polling stations where violence was confirmed and documented, holding fresh elections should be an option on the table. This waste of state resources and time however could have been avoided in the first place if there were better and more proactive security and oversight arrangements, especially at booths that have been historically notorious with regards to rigging and violence.