MQM-P leader Mustafa Kamal and PTI’s Ali Zaidi (right) file their nomination papers for the March 16 by-elections on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
MQM-P leader Mustafa Kamal and PTI’s Ali Zaidi (right) file their nomination papers for the March 16 by-elections on Wednesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: As many as 189 aspiring candidates, including senior leaders of rival political parties, filed nomination papers in the two-day exercise that ended on Wednesday to contest the upcoming by-elections on March 16 on nine National Assembly seats of Karachi that fell vacant after the resignation of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers.

Sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that a total of 189 forms were received by the end of office timing on Wednesday, which was the last day of filing nominations.

The by-polls in Karachi would be held on NA-241 Korangi Karachi-III, NA-242 Karachi East-I, NA-243 Karachi East-II, NA-244 Karachi East-III, NA-247 Karachi South-II, NA-250 Karachi West-III, NA-252 Karachi West-V, NA-254 Karachi Central-II, and NA-256 Karachi Central-IV.

Despite winning over 85 UCs in LG elections, JI is not taking part in March 16 by-elections

JI stays away from electoral process

Prominent among those who filed the nomination papers included PTI’s provincial president Ali Zaidi, senior deputy conveners of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Syed Mustafa Kamal and Dr Farooq Sattar, Shehla Raza, Shahida Rehmani and Khawja Sohail Mansoor of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Interestingly, the Jamaat-i-Islami, which emerged as one of the leading parties from Karachi in the Jan 15 local government elections, decided to stay away from the electoral process.

A JI spokesperson told Dawn the party saw no significance of the by-polls being held only months before the general elections.

All nine ex-MNAs of PTI file papers

Among others, all the nine former MNAs of the PTI filed their nominations from the same seats they won in the 2018 general elections.

Former federal minister and PTI Sindh chapter president Ali Zaidi also filed nomination as candidate from NA-244. Speaking to reporters after filing the papers, he vowed that the PTI would emerge as victorious in by-polls across the country.

He said everyone witnessed how the PPP and the MQM-P made efforts to ‘put hurdles’ so the PTI couldn’t emerge as representative of Karachi.

The people of Karachi, he said, would reject all those who had failed them time and again.

“Imran Khan lives in the hearts of the people of Karachi. The PTI will wipe out all these political parties in the elections. The people of Karachi know that the so-called democratic parties are not their true representatives,” he added.

MQM-P in the run after unification

Following the merger of Pak Sarzameen Party and Organisation Restoration Committee into the MQM-P, the unified party has decided to field its senior leadership.

Mr Kamal filed nomination papers from NA-247 and NA-256 while Dr Sattar submitted his papers from NA-252 and NA-254 constituencies.

Speaking to reporters, MQM-P leader Dr Sattar said that the seats which fell vacant would be regained by his party as in 2018 the PTI was declared winners in these constituencies through ‘political engineering’.

He said that he along with other party candidates was going to contest the elections from the platform of a “reformed MQM”.

Before filing nomination papers, Mr Kamal also addressed a press conference at the party’s temporary headquarters in Bahadurabad.

Mr Kamal told reporters that his party was going to stage a sit-in on Feb 12 at main Fawara Chowk to put pressure on the Sindh government to implement all the terms which were agreed between the MQM-P and the PPP’s Sindh government in April 2022.

He warned that if the problems of the urban Sindh were not addressed immediately they could become “an issue of national security.”

“How can you bring a local government set-up in a city which doesn’t represent the people of that city,” he said. “Isn’t it ridiculous that the mayor of the city of Hyderabad will actually belong to rural Sindh?”

He explained the “gerrymandering” was done to deprive Karachi from 73 union committees and any result of voting on the current delimitation would never reflect the true mandate of the metropolis.

“A detailed study suggested that there are total 73 UCs, according to the documented population of Karachi, which were never carved out,” he said. “The Sindh government took too much time to understand this point and finally it was convinced that the city was short of 53 UCs. Even if we agree with the Sindh government, the city has been deprived of 53 UCs. These 53 UCs are of the size of two districts. How can you justify these elections?”

He also opposed what his called attempts to privatise the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board in the garb of making it corporation through legislation.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023



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