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KARACHI, May 10: As polling for 60 national and 128 provincial assembly constituencies in Sindh is set to begin on Saturday morning, a tough contest is likely on at least four national and seven provincial assembly seats in the city besides some in other parts of Sindh.

Key races include NA-240, 249, 250 and 253 — four of the Karachi seats won by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in 2008 general elections — and NA-202 (Shikarpur), 212 (Naushahro Feroze), 215 (Khairpur) and 228 (Umerkot) that were won by the PPP in last general elections.

Similarly, tough fight is expected on seven PA seats in Karachi — PS-92 (Shershah, Labour Square, Old Golimar, Rexer Line), 93 (SITE, Frontier Colony, Metroville, Bawani Chali, Mominabad), 112 (Hijrat Colony, City Railway Colony, Clifton, Shah Rasool Colony), 113 (Delhi Colony, Defence, Qayyumabad, Civil Lines), 114 (Mehmoodabad, Manzoor Colony, Akhtar Colony, Defence View), 127 (Malir and its certain rural areas) and PS-128 (Quaidabad) — from where the candidates of the MQM and Awami National Party had emerged victorious in 2008.

In addition to the fear caused by terror attacks, new factors that may challenge the last winners in these constituencies also include participation of the Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf which had boycotted the last polls.

The NA-240 (Baldia) constituency comprises areas in district west of Karachi. MQM’s Khawaja Sohail Mansoor won the elections by securing 67,799 votes against his rival PPP’s Abdullah Baloch who bagged 61,017 votes.

This time round, MQM’s Mansoor is not only facing PPP’s Abid Hussain Satti but also PTI’s Naz Baloch, JUI-F’s Mufti Faizul Haq and JI’s Syed Attaullah Shah. The ANP has withdrawn from the race in favour of the PPP’s candidate.

NA-249 (Kharadar-old city area) is the second constituency where the MQM is facing a tough competition. MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar had comfortably won the 2008 elections by securing 103,846 votes against PPP’s Abdul Habib Memon who got 73,324 votes. This time the banned Peoples Amn Committee has posed a serious challenge to the MQM, as parts of this constituency fell in Lyari where the former enjoys complete control. The PPP has fielded Abdul Aziz Memon against Dr Sattar. The constituency has been declared very sensitive due to threats of violence and terrorism.

NA-250 (Defence-Clifton) is yet another constituency where apparently the MQM is not in a comfortable position. The JI, which had boycotted the previous elections, has fielded former city nazim Niamatullah Khan against MQM’s Khushbakht Shujaat, who had won the 2008 general elections following a tough competition with PPP’s Mirza Ikhtiar Baig. Ms Shujaat got 52,045 votes and Mr Baig received 44,412 votes.

In the 2002 elections, former Karachi Mayor Abdul Sattar Afghani, who had contested the elections as Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal candidate, defeated MQM’s Nasreen Jalil with a narrow margin. The JI also enjoys the support of the PML-N and PML-Functional on this seat, as Salim Zia and Kamran Tessori of two PML factions had withdrawn from the race in favour of the former nazim.

PPP candidate Rashid Rabbai and PTI candidate Arif Alvi are also in the run.

While the MQM hopes that the PTI candidate would actually spoil the vote bank of the JI, there are indications that Mr Alvi is also enjoying support from those who had previously exercised their right of vote in favour of the MQM and the PPP candidates.

In NA-253 (Gulshan-i-Iqbal and Gulistan-i-Jauhar), the seat was comfortably won by MQM’s Syed Haider Abbas Rizvi who got 96,973 votes in the absence of a JI candidate. PPP’s Faisal Raza Abidi bagged 47,101 votes.

JI’s Asadullah Bhutto who defeated MQM’s Prof Fahimuddin with a margin of 3,000 votes in the 2002 general election on this seat is again in the race facing MQM’s Muzammil Qureshi this time.

The PPP has fielded Murad Baloch, the PTI Ashraf Jabbar Qureshi and the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) has fielded Asghar Abbas Zaidi in the constituency.

PA seats

PS-92 was won by MQM’s Abdul Haseeb with a narrow margin of just 483 votes in 2008. He bagged 30,981 votes against PPP’s Shabbir Qureshi who got 30,497 votes.

This time Mr Haseeb is facing PPP’s Abdullah Baloch who is also enjoying ANP support.

PS-93 was won for the first time by an ANP candidate in Karachi in 2008. Ameer Nawab of the ANP had convincingly defeated MQM’s Salahuddin with a huge margin. This time the ANP fielded Bashir Jan as its candidate and the PPP recently withdrew its candidates in his favour as part of the seat-adjustment agreement.

Although the ANP is not facing any challenge from its political rivals, the overall security situation and the fact that certain areas in the constituencies are allegedly hideouts of the Taliban have posed a serious threat to the ANP’s dominance in the constituency. This constituency is also declared very sensitive due to threats of violence and terrorism.

MQM’s Muqeem Alam won PS-112 with 27,371 votes against PPP’s Syed Najmi Alam who secured 26,902 votes. This time the MQM has fielded Hafiz Mohammad Sohail against PPP’s Karamullah Waqasi. The constituency comprises mixed population.

Chances of MQM winning PS-113 appears very slim though the constituency was won in 2008 by MQM’s Askari Taqvi who had bagged 24,232 votes against PML-N’s Salim Zia who got 15,533 votes. This time Mr Zia is enjoying support of the JI and it appears that his position is much better than MQM candidate Ali Rashid. Interestingly, PML-F’s Sardar Rahim who recently quit the PML-N is facing Mr Zia now. PTI’s Samar Ali Khan is also in the run.

In the 2008 elections, MQM’s Abdul Rauf Siddiqui had defeated Irfanullah Marwat from PS-114 constituency with a narrow margin. Mr Marwat was contesting elections as an independent candidate and had bagged 22,043 votes against Mr Siddiqui’s 22,840 votes. At that time, PML-N had fielded Sardar Rahim as its candidate and he had got 10,775 votes.

In the 2013 elections, Mr Marwat is facing MQM’s Siddiqui as PML-N candidate. Sardar Rahim is also in the run but from the platform of the PML-F. PTI’s Israr Ahmed Abbasi is also contesting election from this constituency.

PS-127 constituency was won by MQM’s Nisar Ahmed Panhwar in the 2008 elections. He had secured 65,434 votes against his PPP rival Mohammad Rafiq who got 46,469 votes.The constituency is a blend of urban and rural areas. Certain neighbourhoods in this constituency are said to be under control of the banned PAC. The MQM has fielded Ashfaq Mangi against Muhammad Ashraf Samoo of the PPP. The JI and the PTI are also in the run.

PS-128 was won by ANP’s Amanullah Mehsood who had defeated MQM’s Sardar Khan with a margin of 7,000 votes.

The ANP has fielded Mr Mehsood against his rival Waqar Shah of the MQM, while Muttahida Deeni Mahaz has fielded ASWJ leader Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi for the seat.

The PPP has withdrawn its candidate from the race in favour of the ANP candidate.