KARACHI: An exciting contest is expected in Karachi’s NA-247 constituency on July 25 between the candidates of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Pak Sarzameen Party.
NA-247 — one of the two constituencies in Karachi’s South district — has been created after amalgamating former NA-249 (old city areas like Kharadar) and NA-250 (Defence-Clifton, Burnes Road) seats in the fresh delimitation of constituencies.
Also read: Delimitation & identity politics
While the MQM-P has been winning the NA-249 constituency since 2002, NA-250 has never been the stronghold of any single party as it rotated between candidates of MMA (in 2002 elections), MQM-P (2008) and PTI (2013).
PTI’s Arif Alvi and MQM’s Farooq Sattar facing off in constituency
During the 2013 general elections, PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi had emerged victorious from NA-250.
A total of 41 candidates are in the run in NA-247, where the number of registered voters is 543,964 including 294,713 male and 249,251.
This time around, the PTI has fielded Dr Alvi again.
The PPP’s candidate from the constituency is Abdul Aziz Memon and MQM-P has fielded senior leader Dr Farooq Sattar. Both the candidates had earlier contested elections from the NA-249 constituency.
The five-party religious alliance MMA has given ticket to Mohammed Husain Mehanti and the PML-N has fielded Dr Afnanullah Khan, son of senior leader Mushahidullah Khan.
The PSP has fielded Fauzia Kasuri, who joined the Mustafa Kamal-led party after leaving the PTI, from NA-247.
PTI’s Alvi might face a tough challenge this time particularly on account of two factors, said journalist Abdul Jabbar Nasir.
He said that the wave of support that existed for the PTI during 2013 general election had to some extent dissipated. Besides, the PTI mainly relied on affluent areas of Clifton and Defence where a significant number of people had not registered themselves as voters since they preferred to vote in their native areas.
He said the new delimitation had been carried out in a way to favour the PPP and MQM-P since both the parties enjoyed support of around 10,000-15,000 additional votes in some areas which had previously not been part of NA-250.
Besides, candidate’s community background is likely to provide an added advantage, as there are over 30,000 Memon votes in the constituency.
The PPP candidate Memon, MMA’s Mohammad Hussain Mehanti and MQM-P’s Dr Sattar all are Memon.
However, some analysts believe that Dr Sattar may lose this seat.
“Farooq Sattar will struggle in NA-247, it not being a traditional stronghold coupled with the MQM’s prolonged and comical internal tiff,” said commentator Gibran Peshimam. “If he pulls it off, it will be nothing short of a political coup.”
“Else all indicators in NA-247 point to him being the biggest political casualty of the MQM’s diminished political fortunes,” he said.
At present, PML-N’s Dr Khan appears to be the most active candidate who is regularly holding corner meetings in the constituency. His focus is on low-income neighbourhoods and traders of Clifton and Defence.
In Kharadar and adjoining areas of the same constituency, the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is believed to have emerged as a new stakeholder.
TLP’s city chief Allama Syed Zaman Shah Jaffery is contesting from this seat. The party is mainly relying on followers of their school of thought.
Jibran Nasir trying his luck again
Another addition to the pool of candidates is civil social activist Jibran Nasir. He is contesting from this constituency for the second time as an independent candidate.
As low-income areas like Hijrat Colony will play an important role in the election, Mr Nasir is focusing in the areas having concentration of Pakhtun voters, said social activist Abubakkar Yusufzai.
Mr Nasir had played a significant role in highlighting the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, recalled Mr Yusufzai. “He is now a familiar face for Pakhtun youths who use social media and several volunteers from other Pakhtun localities are helping him in his election campaign.”
He is also liked by certain people living in the Defence and Clifton areas as during the 2013 general election slain social activist Sabeen Mehmud had taken out a rally in his support at Seaview.
“Jibran Nasir would be the perfect addition to parliament given the array of issues he has dealt with, which the public representatives have dithered around,” suggested Mr Peshimam. “He also breaks the mould of ‘they’re all the same’ tag on politicians. Voters in NA-247 have the chance to walk it like they talk it.”
Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018