As many as 10 million residents of Sindh exercised their electoral right in the first phase of local bodies elections held in 14 districts of four of the six divisions in Sindh today (Sunday). The elections were held after an extended gap of six years.
The polling which began at 8am continued until 5pm. The vote count is now underway.
In Larkana, PPP candidates won in all seven wards of Naudero municipal committee and 10 ward of Ratodero municipal committee.
In Kashmore, the party won clean swept the polls by winning in all 11 wards.
In town committees of Ghousepur and Kandhkot, PPP’s candidates won in all 10 wards. In town committe of Deharki, PPP’s candidates secured wins in 11 out of 14 wards.
In Larkana, PPP’s provincial minister Sohail Anwer Sial’s younger brother Shahrukh Sia has been elected chairman municipal committee, while federal minister Khursheed Shah’s son Zeerak Shah won in Sukkur’s union council 5. Both contested the election on PPP’s ticket.
In Thaparkar’s Mithi city, PPP emerged victorious in all but one wards. The sole ward was won by an Independent candidate after recounting.
In Digri, polls were held on nine out of 14 wards. All nine wards were won by PPP candidates. The party also won in six out of nine wards in Ubaro town committee. The other three wards were won by Independent candidates.
In Khairpur, PPP won 21 out of 29 wards while Independent candidates won 3 and PTI won one ward.
In Sukkur, PPP received 26 UCs out of 32 successfully. The other three UCs were won by the independent candidates and two PTI candidates.
At least two persons were and dozens left injured in separate incidents of violence during the polls, while complaints of electoral mismanagement were also reported. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed voting in some areas, including in Ghotki district’s Mirpur Mathelo, citing technical issues, after the wrong names of candidates were printed on ballot papers and electoral symbols were found missing.
The elections took place in 14 districts of the province, including Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad, Qambar Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushahro Feroze, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umarkot and Tharparkar.
Elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions will be held in the second phase which is expected to take place next month.
A total of 6,277 seats are up for grabs including four municipal corporations, 11 town municipal corporations,14 districts councils, 23 municipal committees, 101 town committees, and 887 union councils and union committees.
In the first phase of the local bodies elections in Sindh, scores of candidates in different districts have been elected after no one filed competing nomination papers.
At least 946 candidates have been elected unopposed.
Of these, 96 candidates were elected in Kandhkot, 70 in Shahdadkot, 135 in Jacobabad, 94 in Shikarpur, 11 in Larkana, 65 in Mirpur Khas, and 69 in Umarkot districts.
Apart from them, 18 candidates in Tharparkar, 34 in Sukkur, 48 in Gothki, 67 in Khairpur, 48 in Naushahro Feroze, 87 in Sanghar, and 105 in Shaheed Benazirabad also faced no contest.
The ECP said that as many as 8,724 polling stations have been set up in 14 districts of the province where more than 10.14 million registered voters are expected to cast their votes.
Of these, some 1,985 polling stations have been declared as “most sensitive”, 3,448 as ‘sensitive’, and 3,291 as normal.
As many as 26,545 personnel of Sindh Police have been deployed at the polling stations to maintain law and order.
Moreover, 2,980 police and paramilitary Rangers personnel have been deployed at the polling stations declared as “highly sensitive”. Further, 3,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have also been installed for close monitoring of the polling.
To ensure there are no fatal incidents, the provincial government has banned the display of weapons in the province, imposing the restriction under Section 144 CrPC.
Meanwhile, the time for campaigning across the province ended on June 25.
What caused the delay?
The local governments in Sindh province completed their tenure in August 2020 after the 2015 elections.
According to Article 51 of the Constitution, elections were to be held after fresh delimitation of constituencies per the 2017 census.
With the federal government failing to publish results of the 2017 census, the ECP could not complete delimitations, delaying polls.
However, the ECP finally gave the provincial government November 30, 2021, as a deadline to the Sindh government to organize polls or else it would organize elections as per the old delimitations.
Following this warning, the Sindh government made amendments to the Local Government Act in November 2021, and passed it from the provincial assembly. It was enacted into law in December 2021.
Following this, the electoral body carried out new delimitations in Sindh and issued the election schedule.
4 minority members to contest on JUI-F’s ticket
Interestingly, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), a hardcore religious party, has decided to award tickets to four members of the minority Hindu community this year.
All these candidates will fight on the symbol of ‘Book’ in the Sukkur district.