Pakistan’s left-wing Jamaat-e-Islami party on Saturday decided to boycott the general elections for national and provincial assemblies, claiming massive rigging and mismanagement at several polling stations.
Jamat-e-Islami (JI) decided to withdraw candidates from Karachi and Hyderabad. The party has called a peaceful strike on May 13, to protest poll rigging. The party has also been complaining of delay in the start of voting process. Reports said that the closing time of the voting could be extended across the country as the turnout was high.
JI leader Munawar Hasan also complained that party supporters and workers were not being allowed to vote at many polling stations.
Mr. Hasan accused the Mutthaida-e-Qaumi Movement (MQM) of being directly involved in the incidents of violence and rigging. He said despite their warnings about rigging, the Election Commission of Pakistan had not put polling stations under the control of the army as they had demanded.
“We had warned before the elections this would happen and today in many polling stations of Karachi and Hyderabad the polling was not free and transparent,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MQM also claimed there was rigging and mismanagement at several polling stations in the city.
“We fear that around 119 polling stations in some very sensitive areas have been affected. We fear there is wide scale rigging going on in these polling stations to kill the mandate of the MQM in Karachi,” senior leader Dr. Farooq Sattar told reporters.
Mr. Sattar said that at many polling stations presiding and returning officers had deliberately not shown up while at many stations ballot boxes were not available.
The MQM has dominated national and provincial elections from the city since the late 80s sweeping majority of seats in several elections to stamp their dominance in the city.
Political analysts fear that if the MQM and JI, particularly the MQM, don’t accept the election results this could lead to widespread disturbances and violence in Pakistan’s financial hub which has a history of ethnic, sectarian and political violence.