The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Sunday emerged the clear winner in the first phase of local government elections—conducted in 14 districts—in Sindh province according to unofficial and unverified results.
The preliminary results show the PPP as the clear victor with a wide margin, with the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) standing second; independents third; PTI fourth; and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF) in fifth position. The results aren’t entirely unexpected—though most parties have accused each other of rigging—as the 14 districts in which polling occurred have all traditionally been PPP strongholds.
The 14 districts of Sindh in which polling took place were Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, and Tharparkar. Voting commenced at 8 a.m. and continued until 5 p.m. without any break, though some constituencies were marred with violence, prompting the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce an extension to the voting time if polling had been paused. Polling in some wards was also postponed due to misprinting of ballots, with the ECP saying that a new schedule would be issued “soon” and an investigation launched into the faulty ballots.
According to the ECP, 21,298 candidates contested on 6,277 for 101 town committees, 23 municipal committees, 14 district councils, four municipal corporations, 11 town municipal corporations and 887 union councils and union committees. Of the contested seats, 885 of 946 representatives were elected unopposed, raising questions about the ability of opposition parties to secure constituency-level support in the province.
Violence at polls
Two people, including the brother of a PTI candidate, were killed during the day’s violence, and at least 20 others injured. Qaiser Gandapur, the brother of PTI candidate Asghar Gandapur, died in Tando Adam, with the party accusing opponents—particularly the PPP—of being response.
Similarly, a clash between voters of the PPP and the PTI at polling station Allah Jurio Jaghirani of Union Council Panhwari in district Sukkur resulted in the death of Abdul Qadeer Jaghirani and injuries to two others.
There were scattered reports of violence in several other areas, with a group of armed people reportedly attacking the polling station in Nawabshah and holding the polling staff hostage. However, the assailants later fled the polling station with election material. In the Kandhkot area of Kashmore, seven polling staffers were abducted, while four people were injured during clashes between rival groups in Naushero Feroze.
Due to the reports of violence, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Pakistan) demanded that the ECP halt the entire polling process. MQMP senior leader Wasim Akhtar alleged to the media that the low voter turnout was because people feared going to polling stations amidst unrest, stressing that elections could not be conducted freely and fairly in this situation. “The elections are a question mark on the PPP,” he added of the party with which his party is in coalition at the center.
Similarly, the PTI also accused the PPP of using “government machinery” to achieve its victory.