‘Illegal’ marks on ballot papers KARACHI: Despite an eleventh-hour switch by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to vote for the candidate of the rival Muttahida Qaumi Movement on DMC-West chairman’s seat instead of its own ally, the result dramatically changed in favour of the Karachi Ittehad candidate as the returning officer rejected 24 ballot papers bearing illegal marks, officials said.
The results of the election on top posts of the district municipal corporation, Karachi West, had been withheld by the RO overnight after he found numerics and alphabets on 24 of the 67 ballot papers used for election of the chairman’s post.
Officials said none of the marks were found on the ballot papers used for the vice chairman’s seat, thus, its election was valid, which was comfortably won by the PTI’s Azizullah Afridi.
The returning officer’s office said that both candidates appeared before him and upon their consent recounting of the votes was carried out.
Officials said a total of 67 votes had been polled of which 36 had elected MQM’s Izhar Ahmed while 31 had voted for the Karachi Ittehad’s Asif Khan.
During the recounting, 24 of the 36 votes polled in favour of the MQM’s candidates were found scribbled with marks while all the 31 votes of the rival candidate were declared valid.
Officials quoted Clause 39-4c2 of the Sindh Local Council Rules, which clearly stated that every mark on a ballot paper apart from official stamp and signature of the presiding officer would lead to its rejection. Thus, with the rejection of the 24 votes, the total tally of Mr Ahmed decreased to 12 against Mr Khan’s 31. The RO officially declared Asif Khan elected to head the DMC-West.
Officials said both candidates accepted the results in a cordial manner and the change in Wednesday’s result led to no untoward incident in the district.
Asif Khan belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which was part of the six-party Karachi Ittehad to fight against the MQM in the city. The Pakistan Peoples Party, PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party and the JUI-F were the other components of the alliance.
Wednesday’s result had created a huge uproar in the ranks of the alliance when the PML-N accused the PTI of betraying the allies by voting for the MQM candidate. The PTI leadership made conflicting statements on the whole drama. Its leader Imran Ismail rejected the PML-N charge while the central leadership sought explanation from the city’s cadres that why they cut a deal with the MQM without approval of the leadership.
The alliance had fielded its chairman from the PML-N and vice chairman from the PTI.
The alliance claimed they had the number in the DMC-West council, which could easily get them win both top seats. However, by ‘ditching’, the PTI gained just the seat it could have won otherwise as well.
A PPP member said perhaps the PTI councillors suspected that the PML-N was not voting for their candidate that led them to make an alliance with the MQM.
“The PTI had suspicions against the PML-N as its central leadership is against its counterpart in the PML-N,” said the PPP leader.
PPP MPAs Sajid Jokhio, Jawaid Nagori and Shaheena Sher Ali in a statement condemned the PTI for “betraying the Karachi Ittehad by covertly voting for rival candidates”. They said the PTI had deceived the alliance for “petty and personal gain”, which was against democratic norms.
It was the technical reason that helped the alliance win the district, else, the MQM had actually benefited by the rival alliance’s Achilles heal that got its candidate elected as the DMC’s head from nowhere.