KARACHI: While the Sept 12 election in Karachi’s six cantonment boards did not directly concern the vast majority of the people of the metropolis, the results of the polls have left a deep impact on the morale of contesting parties, as many suffered a setback and a few staged a strong comeback to eye their next target in the electoral politics of the country’s business capital.
Although the contesting parties in their messages to their workers, voters and sympathisers are giving thanks for their support, they know well what they have achieved and how much ground they have lost over the years.
According to unofficial results, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) won majority 14 of the 42 councillor seats in Karachi’s cantonment boards followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that got 11 seats and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) which won five seats.
Total six independent candidates have won the election while Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got three each seats.
While PTI gets majority seats in Karachi, it loses traditional stronghold of DHA, Clifton in CBC poll
The PPP, which had got only three seats in the previous cantonment board elections, capitalised on the fast developing situation in the city and managed to win 11 wards in the Sept 12 polls.
On the other hand, the JI has staged a strong comeback in the electoral politics of Karachi after the 2001 local government elections after which Niamatullah Khan Advocate became the mayor of Karachi.
PTI suffers setback in Clifton cantt
But despite being the majority party in Karachi, it was the PTI that has suffered a serious blow in its traditional stronghold of Defence and Clifton which fall within the jurisdiction of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC).
In terms of area and population, the CBC is the biggest cantonment in the city with population of 305,938 people, 10 seats and 190,280 registered voters.
The PTI while taking off on its renewed stream of popularity in 2011 had become the political power of the city’s posh neighbourhood by 2013 and in the 2018 general election had proved it as the only electoral force sweeping all National Assembly and Sindh Assembly seats in the constituencies.
This time around, the trend seems to have changed altogether, as the PTI managed to win only two seats of the CBC, where the PPP won the majority four seats and JI got two seats.
Although the PTI and JI won the same number of seats in the CBC, the religious party had bagged more votes ie 7,329 than 5,612 votes obtained by the ruling party at the centre.
Indicator of Karachi’s future politics
While the results of the Sept 12 elections can hardly be seen as a barometer of the city’s politics, analysts believe it clearly serves as an “indicator” of future of Karachi’s politics and it would be more reflective in the already delayed LG elections.
“It’s [cantonment board elections] an indicator for sure [for future of Karachi politics],” said senior journalist and anchor Mubashir Zaidi, who hosts DawnNews’ flagship show Zara Hat Kay. “We have seen that the space left by the MQM is being filled by the PTI and PPP. The PPP has in fact capitalised winning 11 seats compared to just three in the last elections. The seats won by the PTI suggest it still enjoys vote bank though it has not performed the way it was expected [after wining majority from Karachi in 2018 general elections.]”
For Mr Zaidi the poor performance of the MQM-P was not so surprising seeing the PPP and the PTI among the frontrunners in the future electoral politics of Karachi mainly in the next LG polls.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas agrees with Mr Zaidi to some extent but sees the JI as another force re-emerging in the city’s electoral politics.
“With these [cantonment board] results, apart from the PTI and PPP, the Jamaat [JI] has also regained its foothold in Karachi’s electoral politics and these three parties would be the real contestants in the next LG polls,” he said.
“But what I see after all these results is that the MQM has to do a lot [to regain its vote bank and political ground in Karachi]. There’s no doubt about challenges being faced by the party including cases and other things ... they could do better when they were running the last local government. They performed poorly during that period and lost their ground,” he said.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2021