KARACHI: The electioneering for the by-election on the Sindh Assembly seat, PS-88 Malir, has almost come to an end and all arrangements have been finalised to hold the polling on Feb 16.
The constituency that mainly consists of city’s suburbs in Malir saw an aggressive election campaign from all political parties, especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
In 2018 elections Ghulam Murtaza Baloch of PPP had emerged victorious from the constituency by bagging more than 22,000 votes against Muhammad Rizwan Khan of the PTI who got 16,386 votes.
The seat fell vacant after Murtaza Baloch, the minister for human settlement, died of Covid-19 on June 2, 2020.
The PPP has given ticket to his son, Yousuf Murtaza Baloch, to contest the by-election.
Although there are around a dozen candidates belonging to different parties and independents are also in the race for the Feb 16 by-poll, Mr Baloch is expected to be challenged more by the PTI candidate, Jan Sher Junejo.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, which did not perform well in the 2018 general election and came not even third among other contesting parties, has nominated its former MNA Sajid Ahmed.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has already released the scheme for the by-election on PS-88.
As many as 108 polling stations have been set up in the constituency, out of which 36 have been declared “sensitive” and another 33 “highly sensitive”.
There are a total of 145,627 registered voters in the constituency (81,425 male and 64,202 female).
The constituency consists of mainly suburbs of Karachi in Malir which include Memon Goth, Haji Faqeer Muhammad Village, a few neighbourhoods of Malir Colony, Model Colony and a tiny part of Gulistan-i-Jauhar, where the PPP has maintained a winning streak in the last four general elections. The party feels confident to repeat the history.
“The people of Karachi in general and of Malir in particular have proved their loyalty with the PPP,” said PPP-Sindh president Nisar Khuhro. “The Malir by-election would again prove this. The PPP believes in development and provides relief to the people of this city. We have asked the people of the constituency to come out of their homes on Feb 16 and make this another day of the party’s victory.”
PML-N supports PPP candidate
Mr Baloch of the PPP also enjoys support from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which has already announced that it will back all PPP candidates contesting by-elections in any Sindh constituency, including the PS-88.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) had withdrawn its candidate, Tariq Ali Sarki, in favour of the PTI candidate.
The PTI feels confident to give a tough time to the PPP in the Feb 16 polls.
“Our candidate Jan Sher Junejo is a resident of the same constituency and a loyal worker of the PTI who despite having no public office has served the people of this constituency,” said Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh.
“In the last 13 years, the PPP has harmed Sindh and its people. They have even devoured the funds of pensioners. It’s high time that the people of Sindh open their eyes and recognise the faces of these corrupt people. Jan Sher Junejo is a young and courageous person. The people of Malir should give him a chance and he will change the fate of Malir,” he added.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2021