MQM-P complains of ‘pre-poll rigging’ as local body polls near

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Convener says talks with PPP underway, people to be informed; JI seeks immediate staging of polls

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui Wednesday claimed that “pre-poll rigging” is taking place as the local body elections in Karachi and Hyderabad near.

The polls, originally scheduled to take place in July last year, will now be staged on January 15. The elections were repeatedly postponed because of the massive floods and a lack of a sufficient number of security personnel.

In a press conference in Karachi alongside MQM-P, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, Siddiqui claimed: “Two separate voter lists existed in Karachi and Hyderabad.”

“We want elections to be conducted on time […] protests are our constitutional right and we will exercise that right on January 9,” the MQM-P leader said.

Siddiqui said the MQM-P was aware of JI’s point of view regarding the local polls and the party has listened to the MQM-P’s concerns very carefully and showed sympathy.

“We came here on a very serious issue,” said Siddiqui. He remarked that JI and MQM-P believe that “basic democracy is real democracy. Those who believe in feudal democracy consider basic democracy as a serious threat.”

The pre-poll rigging in Karachi and Hyderabad is already done, said Siddiqui, adding that “major tampering was witnessed in the delimitation of the constituencies”.

Siddiqui said the MQM-P demand local body elections immediately but they should be conducted in a “free and fair” manner. “How can the elections be accepted when the rigging before the polls is already done?”

Meanwhile, speaking at the press conference, JI Karachi Amir Rehman said that in the era of dictatorships, local body elections were held but the democratic governments refrain from holding them.

“We had struggled hard in the General Ayub-led regime. We also went to the courts regarding the voter lists and highlighted this issue,” he said, adding that elections were held in 2013, 2015, and 2018.

“The elections took place under unapproved consensus,” he said, but noted that “elections [taking place] are better than no elections at all”.