Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) chief Pir Pagara have both decided to forfeit Sindh Assembly seats won after the February 8 elections over alleged rigging. According to provisional results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, Naeem had won from the PS-129 constituency (Karachi Central VIII) with 26,296 votes. The runner-up was Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Muaz Muqaddam with 20,296 votes. Meanwhile, GDA candidates had prevailed from Khairpur’s PS-31 and Sanghar’s PS-40 constituency. The alliance received a serious dent in rural areas where it even lost in its strongholds. This development comes after the JI staged sit-ins in Karachi against alleged rigging in the polls.
At a press conference in Karachi, Hafiz Naeem stated, “A PTI-backed independent candidate has won and I will not avail this seat. When I estimated that there was a difference of a few hundred votes, I asked my team for each and every Form . When we checked, we found out that the ECP had shown fewer votes for us but as I did not succeed, I forfeit this seat.” He also claimed votes were reduced by thousands and stated, “Therefore, according to my conscience and the moral traditions of my party, I vacate my provincial assembly seat and demand that all seats we won be returned to us.”
Naeem also claimed the votes cast for the MQM-P from PS-129 were inflated from 6,000 to 20,000, and he vowed to bring forth each and every vote to show the fraud that has been committed. He also called for annulling the election results in Karachi and for holding the exercise afresh. Separately, Pir Pagara announced returning the GDA seats during a Karachi press conference after a party meeting and issued a call for peaceful protests against alleged electoral rigging.
The PTI lauded Rehman’s decision, saying that it expected “similar honesty” from other candidates and stated, “There is no existence of democracy without transparency.” PTI leader Taimur Khan Jhagra also praised Rehman’s decision and called for people to stand up against illegalities in changing election results.