KARACHI: The political winds sweeping across the city are also blowing harder in the constituency of NA-240 and a thrilling contest is likely to take place on July 25 between Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Pak Sarzameen Party and Mohajir Qaumi Movement, better known as MQM-Haqiqi.
However, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and five-party religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal also have stakes in this constituency which covers a major part of Korangi sub-division and almost all of Landhi sub-division.
NA-240 (Korangi Karachi II) comprises the areas which were previously part of the former NA-255 and various areas of NA-254 as the new constituency has been cratered after the fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 population census by amalgamating both former constituencies of National Assembly.
The total population of the constituency is 853,973 while the registered voters in NA-240 were 475,523 including 271,160 male and 204,363 female voters. A total of 292 polling stations and 1,168 polling booths will be set up for elections in the constituency.
It is a constituency dominated by Urdu speakers, but people from other linguistic groups also live here. Additionally, the PPP and religious parties have a considerable presence in the constituency.
MQM-H chairman Afaq Ahmed is among 16 candidates in the run
There are 16 candidates in the run, including Iqbal Mohammad Ali (MQM-P), MQM-H chairman Afaq Ahmed, Syed Asif Hasnain (PSP), Abdul Jameel Khan (MMA), Farrukh Manzoor (PTI), Mohammad Asif (Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan), Mohammad Feroze (Pakistan Peoples Party), Noori Mian (Pakistan Sunni Tehreek), Mohammad Usman (PML Sher-i-Bengal), Abdul Ghafoor (Pakistan Muslim Alliance) and six independents.
There were 246,368 registered voters in NA-255 in the 2002 general election, of which 101,447 votes were polled with a turnout of 41.2 per cent. MQM-H’s Mahmood Ahmed Qureshi had won the seat by obtaining 31,096 votes and Mohammad Aslam Mujahid of the MMA was the runner-up with 27,761 votes. MQM’s Mohammad Abrar-Ul-Haq bagged 25,646 votes.
In the 2008 elections, the constituency had 334,272 registered voters and 192,089 of them exercised their right to vote. The turnout stood at 57pc. Mr Hasnain of the MQM won the seat with 157,971 votes. Haji Nafees Ahmad Usmani of the PPP got 31,389 votes.
In the 2013 elections, of the 347,277 registered voters 178,971 votes were polled with a turnout of over 50pc. Mr Hasnain of the MQM, now contesting on a PSP ticket, again won the seat by getting 136,982 votes against Khalid Mehmood Ali of the PTI (19,033) and MMA’s Abdul Jameel Khan (9,338).
Also, various areas of former NA-254 were included in the newly-created NA-240, but most of the localities of the old constituency were now made part of NA-241.
NA-240 was once considered a stronghold of the MQM which looked like an unbeatable political force since its candidate had won the seat twice since 2008.
However, now the scenario has changed as the party has been facing worst infighting within its ranks and many groups have splintered from it, which may weaken the party’s grip on the seat.
Mr Hasnain, who had won this seat twice from the platform of MQM, is now contesting the election as a PSP candidate.
The MQM-H also has stakes in the constituency as its candidate had won the seat in 2002 general elections and now its chairman Afaq Ahmed himself is in the run.
Once there were turf wars between MQM-H and its rival MQM in these areas. The constituency once housed the then MQM-H headquarters, Baitul Hamza, which was razed in 2003 by the then Karachi Building Control Authority and city district government on the pretext that the entire building was built illegally and on occupied land.
However, the law and order situation improved significantly like other parts of the city following the Rangers-led Karachi operation.
The PTI, which bagged the second highest number of votes from the provincial metropolis in 2013 elections, is likely to give a tough time to its opponents. The MMA candidates got second and third positions during the 2002 and 2013 elections and it is expected that the religious alliance would put up a good show on July 25.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2018