KARACHI: In line with a joint strategy of the ruling coalition partners at the Centre, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday announced withdrawing from the August 21 by-poll on a Karachi National Assembly seat, NA-245, to support the candidate of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

The PPP’s decision has left the MQM’s candidate as the main contestant against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which had won the National Assembly seat in 2018 general elections.

The NA-245 seat had fallen vacant after the death of PTI MNA Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, which had earlier announced that it was organising the by-poll on the vacant seat on July 27, issued a new schedule last month and fixed August 21 as the new date of polling.

By-poll on seat vacant after Aamir Liaquat’s demise scheduled for Aug 21

All major parties contesting the elections had met all the formalities before the new schedule was announced by the ECP.

The PPP said the decision to withdraw its candidate in favour of the MQM-P’s was in fact the decision of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an alliance of all the parties in the coalition government.

However, it made it clear that the strategy was opted only for the by-polls across the country.

“It is a consensus decision of the parties in the coalition [in the federal government] that whichever party had won or stood second in the general elections would be supported by other parties in by-elections,” Sindh Labour Minister Saeed Ghani, who is also the PPP’s Karachi chapter president, said in a statement.

“So we are very clear to follow the rules set by the parties with better vision for the future democratic course and we in line with this strategy have decided to withdraw our candidate Danish Khan from the NA-245 to support the MQM-P.”

The PPP candidate, Mr Khan, who joined the party only a month ago and had become the candidate for the National Assembly seat has endorsed the statement of Mr Ghani who’s also the PPP Karachi president.

The MQM-P and PPP had signed a Charter of Rights in March. Both the parties are part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led federal government, but in the province the MQM-P sits on the opposition benches in the Sindh Assembly.

MQM-P and PTI emerge as key contestants

After the fresh announcement from the PPP, the MQM-P and the PTI have emerged as key contestants in the NA-245.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had already withdrawn its candidate to support the MQM-P, though the party hardly enjoys any vote bank in the constituency.

With the history of winning the seat for the past many general elections except in 2018 when it lost the seat to PTI’s Aamir Liaquat, the MQM-P has fielded Moeed Anwar as the candidate for the NA-245 seat. Mr Anwar was elected as District Municipal Corporation-East chairman in 2016 local government elections.

Dr Farooq Sattar factor

Enjoying strong position in the constituency after support from different parties, the MQM-P, however, faces a new challenge as its disgruntled leader, seasoned parliamentarian and founder of the Organisation Restoration Committee of the MQM-P Dr Farooq Sattar is also contesting as an independent candidate.

Addressing a news conference last month, Dr Sattar announced that he would contest from NA-245 after negotiations had failed with the MQM-P’s coordination committee, particularly convenor Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

He said the negotiations had failed because the MQM-P had refused his suggestion to convene a workers’ convention where the workers could devise a strategy for the reunification process.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2022

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