KARACHI, May 4: With over 3.5 million population and having four National Assembly and nine provincial assembly seats, Karachi’s district west has become a challenging place for any political party that had won elections five years back.
The inclusion of new players such as the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Jamaat-i-Islami, which had boycotted the 2008 general elections, as well as an alleged safe haven of militants have made it difficult for the Pakistan Peoples Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party to repeat their performance.
The PPP had won an NA seat (NA-239), while the MQM had emerged victorious on NA- 240, 241 and 242 in the 2008 general elections.
Out of the nine PA seats, two seats had been won by the PPP, six by the MQM and one by the ANP.
“For district west if the ratio (of success) was 3:1 for the MQM in the 2008 general elections, it would be 2:2 in the 2013 elections,” says Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed of the University of Karachi’s Pakistan Study Centre. “But this conclusion is made after considering factors which have been added over the past few years for many reasons. I don’t think the turnout would be affected in either way to a large extent despite the fact there is a fear factor among the parties and voters as well.”
Abdul Qadir Patel of the PPP was the only candidate of his party in the 2008 polls who emerged victorious from the district west’s NA-239 constituency. Bagging, 56,840 votes, he defeated MQM’s Dr K.S. Mujhahid Khan Baloch, who secured 24,013 votes.
The remaining three NA constituencies of the district — NA-240, NA-241 and NA-242 — were won by MQM candidates with a good margin. The turnout which was below 40 per cent in the 2002 elections jumped to as high as 60pc in 2008.
District west comprises areas of Manghopir, Orangi Town, Baldia Town, a few blocks of North Nazimabad, parts of Keamari, Lyari and Saddar towns, where 45,732 votes have been added after verification of electoral rolls by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Most of the people living in the district are Urdu-speaking, while Gujarati, Kachhi, Pakhtun, Hazarewals, Baloch, Sindhi and people from Junagarh are also living there.
The number of registered votes in NA-239 is 340,508. The PPP candidate Patel remains favourite to retain his seat where 26 candidates are in the run, including the MQM’s Salman Khan Baloch.
There are two PA seats — PS-89 and PS-90 — and it is believed that the PPP would bag both of them as it did in the 2008 general elections.
NA-240, from where the MQM had emerged victorious in the 2002 and 2008 general elections, the party has again nominated Khawaja Sohail Mansoor.
Having a total of 276,895 registered votes, the constituency consists of parts of Baldia Town, Saeedabad, SITE, Shershah, Old Golimar, Pak Colony and Mewashah.
The interesting factor that emerges in the 2013 elections for the constituency is the inclusion of the PTI among the contesting parties. It has nominated Naz Baloch from NA-240. Maulana Taj Hanfi, a senior leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, is also contesting from the constituency as a candidate of a religious parties’ alliance, Muttahida Deeni Mahaz.
The constituency is home to two PA seats — PS-91 and PS-92. The MQM had won the two seats in the 2008 elections.
NA-241 (Orangi Town) has 306,737 registered votes. The main contest is between the MQM and the Jamaat-i-Islami, whose candidate Muhammad Laeeq Khan had won the elections in 2002 as a Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal candidate. The MQM’s Iqbal Qadri, who had emerged victorious by bagging 93,617 votes in the 2008 elections, has been nominated again for the May 11 polls from NA-241.
There are three PA seats — PS-92, PS-93 and PS-94 — and in the 2008 elections, the MQM lost one of them.
The Awami National Party’s Ameer Nawab had won the 2008 elections on the PS-93 constituency. The ANP has nominated a senior party leader, Bashir Jan, from the same constituency for the 2013 elections.
The MQM dominated NA-242, another seat consisting mainly areas of Orangi Town, in the last two elections. It has 304,591 registered votes.
MQM’s Dr Abdul Qadir Khanzada had bagged a phenomenal 147,892 votes in the 2008 elections with 60.25pc turnout.
This time the MQM has fielded Mehboob Alam from the constituency and he is hardly seen a major rival among a total of nine candidates contesting from NA-242.
The MQM had won all three PA seats — PS-95, PS-96, and PS-95 — falling in the NA constituency.
Analysts said the MQM had emerged as the only party which gained to some extent mainly due to development projects the party had carried out through the local government system under former city Nazim Mustafa Kamal.
“There is room for an analytical audit of the development projects the local government carried out under the MQM rule but the perception is that they have contributed a lot to the city development. So I don’t think there would be any major difference in terms of results for the party,” says Dr Ahmed.
“If you see parties other than the MQM in Karachi’s perspective, I don’t think the PPP has gained anything during the last five years. If you talk about the JI, I think it has the ability to accept any challenge due to its strong organisational structure. Their survival under the circumstances is in fact their success but I don’t think they could affect the results of the upcoming elections.”