KARACHI: Eight candidates belonging to different political parties are contesting the general election from the National Assembly constituency 245, which has been created from the old NA-252, Karachi East IV.

The constituency comprises Jamshed Quarters and Ferozabad sub-divisions that include PECHS, Lines Area, Pakistan Quarters, Soldier Bazaar, New Town, Patel Para, Garden West, Martin Quarters, Teen Hatti, PIB Colony, etc.

There are over 443,540 voters — 239,893 men and 203,647 women. The election commission has set up 231 polling stations with 916 polling booths for the voters’ convenience.

People in this area mostly belong to the middle-income group, doing small businesses, or employed in government departments and private sector and also daily-wage earners. They belong to various ethnicities, including Urdu-speaking, Gujarati-speaking, Baloch, Punjabis, Pakhtuns, Sindhis etc.

Formerly an MQM bastion, unexpected results could emerge from seat

The eight candidates contesting the July 25 elections are Farooq Sattar (Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan), Sagheer Ahmed (Pak Sarzameen Party), Aamir Liaquat Hussain (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf), Farrukh Nawaz Tanoli (Pakistan Peoples Party), Saifuddin (Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal), Samina Huma Mir (Awami National Party) and Allama Raza Amjadi (Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan).

There were 222,482 voters in the constituency in the 2002 general election, of which 74,019 votes were polled (33 per cent) and the seat was won by Mohammad Hussain Mehanti of the MMA, who polled 33,089 votes. The runner-up was Intizar Qureshi of the MQM, who polled 22,862 votes.

In the 2008 elections the number of registered voters was 278,643 in the constituency and 117,550 (42.2pc) were polled. The seat was won by Rasheed Godil of the MQM, who polled 87,280 votes while the runner-up was Asghar Hussain of the PPP, who polled 25,337 votes.

Changed circumstances

In the general election held in 2013 Rasheed Godil of the MQM not only retained his seat but even improved his election performance and polled 91,339 votes. The seat was won by the MMA in 2002 while in the last two elections, held in 2008 and 2013, the seat was won by the MQM, when it contested as one political entity. However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and the MQM, which looked like an unbeatable political force, has been facing many challenges recently and many groups have splintered from it that could weaken the party’s grip on the seat it had won by big margins in the last two general elections.

A few candidates that were earlier members of the unified MQM are contesting the elections under different political parties, which might confuse the party voters. Some other political parties would also be looking to benefit from the vacuum created by the MQM factionalism. Religious sentiment could also play a role when the voters go in the polling booths to cast their votes.

Farooq Sattar is a senior MQM leader with vast parliamentary and ministerial experience and currently the chief of his own faction of the party. Sagheer Ahmed, formerly a senior MQM leader who has been a parliamentarian and member of the cabinet, left the party and joined the PSP. Aamir Liaquat Hussain is a media person and has been a parliamentarian as well as a minister of the MQM in the past but now is a member of the PTI.

So what earlier — as the past couple of election results have shown — used to be a sure and safe seat for the MQM, this time the party might have to struggle a lot more to repeat its past performance as getting 90,000 plus votes, under the present circumstances, would be an uphill task.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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