Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) chief Pir Pagara on Monday forfeited Sindh Assembly seats won after the February 8 elections over alleged rigging.
According to the provisional results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan for the February 8 general elections, Naeem had won from the PS-129 constituency (Karachi Central VIII) with 26,296 votes.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Muaz Muqaddam was the runner-up 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.
The development comes a day after the JI staged sit-ins at eight different key points in Karachi against alleged rigging in the polls.
Hafiz Naeem had earlier stated that his party’s and independent candidates had secured the majority of votes in Karachi’s national and provincial assemblies constituencies but the MQM-P was being imposed on the city.
The JI had also protested outside the office of the Sindh election commission on Saturday, where it was joined by supporters of the PTI and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference in Karachi today, an irate Hafiz Naeem said, “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 said.
He went on to claim that PTI-backed independent candidate Saif Bari had won according to his team’s calculations, stating that his votes were “reduced to 11,000 from 31,000”.
According to the ECP, Bari had gathered 11,357 votes.
In a separate post on social media platform X, he said, “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.”
In his media talk, Hafiz Naeem alleged that the votes cast for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) from PS-129 were inflated from 6,000 to 20,000.
“I also say to the workers of MQM-P that if God has shown you the right path and your conscience speaks, then come before the nation and announce that ‘we have not won’.”
“They faced the worst defeat — all of them including Mustafa Kamal,” he said, vowing to bring forth “each and every vote to show the fraud that has been committed with the nation”.
The JI leader stated, “I am forfeiting my seat and the seat which is ours should be given to us. We will challenge [the results of] the seats [where we know] we have won. We will not claim what we have lost”.
Recalling his vow to the public of not wanting “even a single additional vote”, Hafiz Naeem said: “People have voted for us and accepted our idea [sic]. The city of Karachi is with JI, and with me and my team which I consider an honour.
“[…] this seat of mine is a slap on the election commission’s face. We do not want this seat in charity. Give us our right,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the MQM-P, Naeem said that candidates who garnered “3,000 to 4,000 votes were being imposed” on the nation.
Acknowledging that some may not consider his decision to be the right one, he said, “Even if they have erased us, they can’t erase us from people’s hearts. We will fight for the people, democratically [and] hold peaceful demonstrations.”
The JI leader further said that the nation “knew everything” due to social media and a “fake mandate” could not be imposed on the people.
He called for annulling the election results in Karachi and for holding the exercise afresh. Calling on Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa to take notice of the rigging allegations, he asked, “Chief justice sahib, where should the people go?”
Separately, Pagara announced returning the GDA seats during a Karachi press conference after a party meeting. Criticising the polling exercise, he termed it an “anti-state election”.
He issued a call for peaceful protests against the alleged electoral rigging with one at Hyderabad bypass on Friday.
He said the party would also protest outside the Sindh Assembly and initiate contacts with other parties.
PTI lauds Rehman’s decision
Reacting to Rehman’s decision, the PTI lauded him, saying that it expected “similar honesty” from other candidates.
“There is no existence of democracy without transparency,” it said in a post on X.
PTI leader Taimur Khan Jhagra, who was a candidate for a provincial assembly seat from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said, “All we need is people like this for the country to progress. Well done!”
He further wrote: “The more people like deputy commissioner Afaq Wazir dig their heels to cover their illegalities in changing the results on eight Peshawar seats, the more they are criminally implicating themselves.”