The PPP took a clean lead in the first phase of Sindh’s local bodies elections in 14 districts, according to unofficial results.
Sindh voted in the polls a day earlier amidst sporadic incidents of violence, clashes and at least two deaths.
According to unconfirmed and unofficial results, the ruling PPP won with a big margin, while the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) stood second, independents third, PTI fourth, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) secured the fifth position.
The polling process started at 8am and continued until 5pm without any pause. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had announced extending voting time in areas where the polling was stopped.
The 14 districts of Sindh included Larkana, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot, and Tharparkar.
The voting process ended for the first phase of the local government elections in 14 districts from four divisions of Sindh being held today (Sunday) and the counting of votes is underway amid reports of violence and clashes in several districts.
During the election polling, clashes broke out between political parties at several polling stations leading to injuries. Voting was halted due to riots at certain wards. There were reports of rigging, rioting, disappearances of polling booths and incarceration of polling staff in different districts.
In ward 13 of Tando Adam, a clash occurred between PPP and PTI workers which led to the death of Zafar Khan Gandapur, the brother of PTI candidate Qaiser Khan Gandapur - who was also injured during the fight.
Polling was stopped in ward 13 after the murder, and the PTI candidate alleged that his brother was killed due to PPP workers' violence.
In Nawabshah, unidentified assailants attacked three polling stations causing the ECP to postpone the voting process.
In Pano Aqil, the authorities arrested at least 13 people who were allegedly involved in violence at the polling stations. According to ECP, it would not let anyone thwart the polling or disrupt the elections.
In Khairpur, at least five people were injured as a result of a clash between the workers of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and the PPP. The violence had resulted in the closure of the polling stations.
In Kashmore, a large number of police officials had arrived at Guddu Town Committee's ward no.10 as a result of the violence between supporters of a PPP nominee and an independent candidate.
In Sanghar, the violence resulted in the closure of the polling station and multiple injuries whereas in Rohri, there were unconfirmed reports of a death and multiple injuries as a result of firing between two parties. Police had to be called in to control the situation.
In Khanpur Meher, a scuffle broke out between the members of the PPP and GDA after the latter accused the presiding officer of manipulating the election. The polling had to be stopped after the violence as the situation remained tense despite the police's presence.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the ECP said that the chief election commissioner was monitoring the electoral process himself. They said that the election watchdog took swift action in the areas where violence was reported and reopened the polling stations after taking control of the situation. They urged people not to pay heed to the rumours and poll their votes without fear.
Earlier in the day, Sindh Election Commissioner Ijaz Anwar Chauhan while addressing a press conference said that Rangers personnel would be present with police for quick response if need be.
He added that they were also in touch with the military in case of emergency. According to Ijaz, cameras were installed to make the elections transparent, and an effective security system had also been put in place. He maintained that strict action would be taken against those who spread unrest, adding that Daska's case was before everyone as an example.
“Action will also be taken against staff who colluded with the candidates”, he said.