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KARACHI: NA-236 is different in many ways. Under the new delimitation, it is the first National Assembly constituency of Karachi and one of the three of Malir district. The constituency is also different because of its geography, which despite remaining under the civic administration of the country’s business capital still largely consists of rural areas.

The constituency is also different because it is the largest of Karachi in terms of area, which on the one side touches Scheme-33 and on the other, borders with Dhabeji — a town of Thatta district.

According to the 2017 census, the constituency has a population of 662,499 and houses 233,028 voters — 134,857 male and 98,171 female — for which 681 booths in 197 polling stations have been set up.

Three seats of the National Assembly — NA-236, 237 and 238 — and five of the Sindh Assembly — PS-87, 88, 89, 90 and 91 — represent over two million people of the district among whom 751,526 are registered to vote.

The mostly rural constituency suffers from poor infrastructure and lack of civic facilities

Being a new constituency, July 25 polls in NA-236 would be interesting for many to mark the first winning party or candidate.

Most of the areas falling under NA-258 in previous elections are now part of NA-236 after the delimitation with few blocks of previous NA-256 and NA-257.

Another important aspect of the constituency is that the majority of the population lives in villages, which makes it different from much of the rest of the city.

Spanning both urban and rural Karachi, the constituency this time is hosting 20 candidates for the National Assembly seat. But all indications seem to suggest that the Pakistan Peoples Party, which has fielded Abdul Karim Bijar, may carry the day in the constituency.

If nothing unusual happens before the polls, like seat adjustment with other parties, Mr Bijar is the favourite to win as he enjoys support of different communities, mostly Sindhi-speaking, living here for decades.

Other major candidates in the contest are: Qadir Bux of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Mumtaz Hussain Soomar of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, Mohammad Ashfaq of Pak Sarzameen Party and Dewan Chawla of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

If one goes by the past result of NA-258 which makes up most of the new constituency, Abdul Hakeem Baloch of the PML-N emerged victorious in 2013, bagging more than 50,000 votes while the PPP had won the seat in 2002 and 2008.

Mr Baloch, however, had switched his political loyalty and joined the PPP and is now contesting for another National Assembly seat (NA-237) from the same district.

Apart from poor infrastructure, conditions of roads, health and education facilities and unavailability of water, drug peddling and illegal business activities are other key problems being faced by the residents.

They blame the past governments and their representatives for not only ignoring their problems but supporting criminal elements to strengthen their foothold.

The provincial assembly seats PS-87 and PS-88 also favour the PPP.

The former covers 80 per cent of NA-236 which is the largest constituency of the provincial assembly in terms of area, replacing PS-129 and PS-130 of the past three elections.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018