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Karachi’s Barack Obama moment

May 22, 2013

There is a surprising lack of media curiosity on the success of PTI all over Karachi, indeed in constituencies such as North Nazimabad, Azizabad and Nazimabad.

There was belated realisation in the media of PTI gaining an average of around 40,000 votes from each of Karachi’s constituencies. There still is little investigation of the strength of the MQM vote.

Was this strong vote evident in the queues outside the polling stations? Individual accounts, admittedly anecdotal evidence, suggest that people predominantly met and chatted with voters who revealed they will be voting for the PTI.

Very few non-PTI voters revealed themselves. To quote a wit, “there were as many PTI polling agents at the stations as there were non-PTI voters in the queues.”

Whatever the size of the non-PTI vote bank, the media has shown a curious lack of intellectual curiosity at the rise of PTI in Karachi.

What a pity. A city of 20 million in an ethnicity-centered polity has just ditched local politics to vote national, yet there isn’t even the beginning of realisation in the media.

Privately, however, I am as impressed with my city as I am with the United States for electing Barack Obama.

For just as greater credit goes not to Obama but to the American people for electing a black president, so must the hearts warm to the people of Karachi for gambling all on a distant Khan.

Unfortunately, to date, the same lack of realisation is evident in the PTI. A very large portion of the official vote (a predominant portion, if the “rumours” are believed) is now unrepresented in the province.

The formation of a party network to reassure this voter in the face of continuing violence is a complicated task; and making its voice heard in the provincial coalition government tricky. Both are unlikely without the party’s laser-focus on Karachi.

This city is used to bloodshed aplenty; it might be in for a heart-break.

A.S Karachi