KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan held a repeat election on Sunday in an upscale area of the southern city of Karachi that was plagued with allegations of vote-rigging, despite the shooting death of a senior member of former cricket star Imran Khan's party.
Khan blamed Zahra Shahid's killing late Saturday night in Karachi on the Muttahida Quami Movement, the same party he accused of vote rigging in the May 11 election. The MQM denied the allegations.
Gunmen shot Shahid in front of her home after they tried to snatch her purse and then sped away on a motorcycle, said police officer Sarfaraz Nawaz. The culprits made it look like a robbery, but it could have been a targeted killing, he said.
Shahid was vice president for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party in surrounding Sindh province.
Khan blamed the head of the MQM for the killing on Twitter, saying "I hold Altaf Hussain directly responsible for the murder as he had openly threatened PTI workers and leaders through public broadcasts."
Hussain is currently in self-imposed exile in London because of legal cases against him in Pakistan.
Khan also blamed the British government, saying he had warned officials about Hussain's threats against his party workers.
The MQM, which is the strongest party in Karachi and has long controlled the city, has often been accused of using violence against its competitors. The party has boycotted the repeat polling being held Sunday for a national assembly seat and two provincial assembly seats.
Turnout for the vote seemed light compared to the crowds that came out on May 11. The vote was being held at 43 polling stations in the NA-250 constituency under the protection of police and army soldiers.
The big winner in the May 11 national election was the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which looks set to form the next government. The party held off a strong challenge from Khan, whose criticism of the country's traditional politicians energized the Pakistani youth.
Khan has alleged vote rigging in different parts of the country, and the election commission is repeating the vote or doing a recount for eight national assembly seats, including in NA-250.
Talib Hussain, a university student, said he was up all night studying but couldn't miss the chance to vote.
"I didn't get a chance to cast my vote on May 11," said Hussain. "Luckily I got a second chance, so I did not want to miss it."
The polling in NA-250 had been characterized by extensive delays on May 11 because some polling stations opened hours late. Sunday's voting seemed to be going smoother.
"Last time I was here and stood in line for four hours but went home without casting my vote," said Majid Hussain, a banker in the city. "This time I am happy to cast my vote without any difficulty."
Associated Press writer Zarar Khan contributed to this report from Islamabad.
- Politics & Government
- Imran Khan
- Altaf Hussain