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Karachi

July 13, 2018

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Is a more apt contender set to snatch NA-244 from MQM?

Since the previous general elections the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) position has apparently weakened a great deal across Karachi. Now, as the July 25 general elections draw near, the party seems to be losing its grip on NA-244 (East-III) as well.

It appears that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) have much better prospects of winning the constituency.

The second most populated (726,253) constituency in District East, NA-244 stretches from Pehlwan Goth in Gulistan-e-Jauhar to Defence View, covering Gulshan-e-Jamal, Dhoraji, KDA Scheme 1, Muhammad Ali Society, Baloch Colony, Mehmoodabad, Chanesar Goth, Akhtar Colony, parts of Tariq Road and Gulistan-e-Jauhar. These areas previously fell under NA-251, NA-252 and NA-256.

Most of these localities are affluent, as the city’s traditional business community lives here. However, some of the pockets are populated by low-income groups, where, according to the previous election’s results, each of the above-mentioned political parties has maintained a certain vote bank.

Major contestants

The MQM-Pakistan has fielded its prominent leader Rauf Siddiqui for the National Assembly seat, while the other major contestants include Ali Zaidi of the PTI, Miftah Ismail of the PML-N, Mian Vaqar Akhtar Paganwala of the PPPP, Zahid Saeed of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Saeed Shafiq of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).

NA-244 is the only constituency of the metropolis where all the major contenders, except Paganwala, are among the top taxpayers in the city, with their businesses in the country and abroad.

An estimate of the total assets declared by these candidates in their nomination forms comes to Rs1.378 billion, while their taxes make up Rs22 million. Seventeen other candidates, including nine independents, are also vying for the NA-244 seat.  

General statistics

The constituency has a total of 407,363 registered voters, 46 per cent of whom are women. Two hundred and ten polling stations have been notified here.

At least nine union councils of the district, namely UC-1, UC-2, UC-3, UC-4, UC-5, UC-6, UC-8, UC-12 and UC-27, and some wards of the Faisal Cantonment Board fall under this constituency.

With 13 general councillors in UCs, the MQM takes the lead, while the PPPP has seven, the PTI six and the PML-N four. Two provincial assembly constituencies, PS-103 and PS-106, also fall under this NA seat, and 45 candidates are vying for them.  

PS candidates

Bilal Ahmed of the PTI, Tanzeel bin Abdul Rauf of the MQM-P, Soofia Saeeda Shah of the PSP, Ali Ashiq of the PML-N, Muhammad Shahzad of the PPPP and Muhammad Junaid Mukati of the MMA are among the major contestants for PS-103.

Saeed Ghani of the PPPP, Khurram Shehzad of the MQM-P, Shoukat Zaman of the PSP, Zahoor-ul-Haq of the MMA and Mansoor Ahmed Sheikh of the PTI are vying for PS-104.

‘Winning position’

PML-N Karachi President Ali Akbar Gujjar told The News that his party is in the “winning position” in the constituency and, hopefully, Miftah Ismail will win the NA seat.

Gujjar claimed that a large number of locals are committed to voting for the PML-N because the party has been serving the people of Karachi, particularly the NA-244 constituency.

He said the MQM-P and the PPPP are the “ruling” parties of the province, but they are focused on corruption instead of resolving the issues of the metropolis. “It was the federal government of the PML-N that started mega projects in the city, most of which have been completed.”

The MQM-P is fully aware of the initiatives taken by the federal government, and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif has promised that Karachi’s fortune will change if his party returns to government.  

MMA versus MQM-P

Jamaat-e-Islami Information Secretary Zahid Askari said the door-to-door campaign of the MMA is running in full swing in the constituency, where various business communities have assured their support for MMA candidate Zahid Saeed, also the vice-president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry.

Askari said Saeed is a renowned leader of the business community who had bagged 31,000 votes in the 2013 general elections despite the JI’s announcement of boycotting the polls at 1pm on Election Day.

Political analyst Abdul Jabbar Nasir is of the view that Saeed has considerable influence over the local business community, which makes up 110,000 of the total voters.

He claimed that the PML-N, the PPPP and the PTI do not have a good reputation in the constituency, so a tough contest is expected between the MMA and the MQM-P.  

PTI eyeing 10 seats

Firdous Shamim Naqvi, who heads the PTI in Karachi, said his party expects to win at least 10 seats, including NA-244, in Karachi. He said the MMA candidate may enjoy a good reputation among the business community, but he has forgotten that the community does not prefer Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s religious ideology.  

PPPP confident of win

Mian Vaqar Akhtar Paganwala, the PPPP candidate, said he is contesting the elections for the first time, but he is confident that he will win. “In the 1960s my father Mian Muhammad had settled in Akhtar Colony and his uncle in the neighbouring Manzoor Colony.”

Paganwala said that during the by-elections for the provincial assembly seat in the constituency, the people of these areas had elected a PPPP leader, so the party will, hopefully, win the NA seat.

PS-103 CANDIDATE PARTY PS-104 CANDIDATE

TANZEEL BIN ABDUL RAUF MQM-P KHURRAM SHEHZAD

MUHAMMAD SHAHZAD pppp SAEED GHANI

BILAL AHMED pti MANSOOR AHMED

SOOFIA SAEED SHAH psp SHOUKAT ZAMAN

Muhammad JUNAID MUKATI MMA ZAHOOR UL HAQ

MOHAMMAD AKBAR MQM-H SHAHEEN ADNAN

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