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Karachi’s Barack Obama moment

Published May 22, 2013 08:30am


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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


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Comments (16) Closed

pakiman2013 May 22, 2013 01:00pm
PTI does have a plan. Go and read their entire plan on their website. And for once, say goodbye to MQM and its leader who lives in London.
Jalaluddin S. Hussain May 22, 2013 03:49pm
Please do not get impatient. It will take time. The people of Karachi will have to cooperate. I am hopeful, while living in far off Canada.
Khan May 22, 2013 05:39am
Keep on dreaming , Barack Obama fails to deliver. What plan PTI have to end quota system, jobs for locals, local police, end of land grabbing by outsiders, fair share for Karachi from the revenue it generates, end of systematic Talibanization of city etc.... Can a PTI supporter show me a plan for these issues and others which karachi citizens are facing, Imran never talked about these issues.
Sameer May 22, 2013 07:22pm
A.Khan, I am not a PTI lover as such... but the thing is, they are untested. unless you dont test someone, how can you judge them? has any other party worked for Pakistan's betterment? its the newness factor, PTI should be given one chance, if they fail, shun them, if they succeed, support them. Yes you will say PTI is filled with old faces... but 80% of party is still unknown people and totally new to politics. all it needs is a chance. you ask what is their plan? has any other party remained committed to their manifesto? why not try PTI and see if they remain committed to their manifesto?
khan2 May 22, 2013 12:15pm
well said mr. khan. now get ready to be trolled by the pti fan club menace!
A. Khan May 22, 2013 04:37pm
But can the party you support show a plan to resolve the same issues ? I think you are a typical desi whose favorite past time is moaning about everything but doing nothing about anything.
AHMAD May 22, 2013 07:50pm
What is so great in elected Obama as president. The credit goes to democracy and decency of American people. In return Obama calls them racists. What a shame. In Pakistan any one with a similar credential will have hard time getting a good job.
farah S May 23, 2013 01:38am
Well said and I agree with you. I'm proud of Karaciites today. And sorry media is interested only in sensation and ratings
Khan May 23, 2013 03:39am
Reality bites. Are desis not Pakistani or only burgers are Pakistani?
Irfan Hussain May 23, 2013 04:56am
Karachi ppls sick of target killing & violence they want solution and solution is Imran Khan.
Liberal Guy May 23, 2013 05:31am
So you are comparing people of Karachi (who are mainly Migrant from India and are minority in Pakistan) votes with American people votes (who are mainly from White voters and they are Majority in America). It would be a better comparison if someone Karachi would have get elected as Prime Minister of Pakistan as Barack Obama got elected President of America.
rizwan May 23, 2013 05:59am
since 1987 MQM is in power in karachi...and since then the crime in karachi has started and are unabated.several governments like the gov't of benazir bhutto (1993-96) and Nawaz sharif(1990-93)took actions against them but the mqm was successful in fooling karachi is grabbed by MQM and we have seen the lets give IMRAN KHAN A CHANCE.....
Adelaide May 23, 2013 07:34am
Can PTI will give fair share of Karachi domicile holders in Federal or Provincial Services. Will the grants to government education institutions-Karachi University & NED, DOW, Sindh medical colleges-will be increased. I will tell you the answer No.Will they raise their voices for it No, but they expect the Karachi vote.
AQ May 23, 2013 08:19am
PTI realized after May 11th Elections that rather than concentrating their efforts in Lahore, they could have bagged 5 NA seats from Karachi and that is their frustration. Unfortunately, IK and PTI were only interested in "Tsunami" or some kind of revolt on May 11th that could make Imran Khan "Prime Minister". PTI can never deliver anything in Karachi besides expecting Karachiites to forget about past, consider themselves Pakistanis and vote for PTI. But Imran Khan is justified in calling himself a proud Pashtun, Najam Sethi calling himself a proud Lahori and Zulfiquar Mirza calling himself a proud Sindhi. If KPK can vote for PTI, Punjab can vote for PML-N, Baluchistan can vote for nationalists, Rural Sindh can vote for PPP, then why can't Karachiites vote for MQM. I was never MQM voter and will never be so but am a proud Karachiite and will never hesitate to state that only time Karachi witnessed development and progress was during Syed Mustafa Kamal tenure
AHA May 23, 2013 11:47am
Great observation.
Ali S May 23, 2013 01:02pm
Yes, PTI enjoys great popularity in middle-class areas of Karachi. I (along with most other middle-class friends and relatives) voted for PTI for NA-245, which consists mostly of middle-class neighbourhoods of North Nazimabad along with some working class areas. NA-245 got PTI the most votes (over 54,000 according to ECP's website) from any constituency in Karachi. I also travel frequently by public transport and saw a PTI cap hanging besides the driver's seat on a minibus. So yes, the notion that PTI is a "burgers" party is just media bias. But still, the Barack Obama comparison was off.