• ABAD chairman’s son, ex-KATI chief contesting as independents
• Traders’ rep hitches wagon with TLP; electronics market leader chooses PPP platform

 Mujtaba Sum Sum
Mujtaba Sum Sum

THE business community in Pakistan’s largest city is, as you would expect, hedging its bets for the upcoming elections. This segment usually supports political candidates of their choice by financing their campaigns or contributing in other ways.

This time around, however, they are not satisfied with the direction in which the winds of sentiment are blowing, and a number of businessmen and their children have decided to step into the electoral arena for themselves.

While a number of them have aligned with mainstream or nascent political parties, some are also opting to enter the electoral fray as independents, riding on the existing goodwill they have in their respective areas.

In some cases, it is a pure gamble on the part of these ‘professional risk-takers’, who have decided to run for office as they see no suitable candidate who could represent their interests and have decided to take matters into their own hands on the chance that voters will also be thinking the same.

‘Youngest’ independent

The 25-year-old Barrister Mujtaba Sum Sum is perhaps the youngest independent candidate in PS-101. His battleground is the area comprising Bahadurabad, Dhoraji Colony, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Essa Nagri, Shanti Nagar, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Civic Centre, Old Sabzi Mandi and Al Hilal Society etc.

Mr Sum Sum is the son of current Association of Bui­lders and Dev­elo­pers (ABAD) Chair­­man Asif Sum Sum, who has been running an eponymous construction company for over 25 years.

Talking to Dawn, Mujtaba said that during political campaigns, people of these areas frequently express their anger over the role played by political parties over the last decade and a half, saying that winners never bother to return to their areas after succeeding in the elections.

“Many people also ask how an independent candidate will bring change in the stereotype system,” he says, adding that he does not plan to skim money from contracts and projects that elected candidates get for their areas after being elected.

“My aim is to work for the people,” the young candidate says.

When asked whether he will join a political party if he is successful, Mujtaba says he will only take such a decision after getting feedback and suggestions from the people of his constituency.

Ex-KATI chief

 Farazur Rahman
Farazur Rahman

Farazur Rahman is a former chairman of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) and contesting as an independent candidate in NA-233 and NA-234, district Korangi.

He is the son of Fazlur Rehman, who founded KATI in 1974. His company, MY Group, is involved in the construction, textile, shipping and logistics business.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Rehman said the issues of the general public and the industries were the same; a thriving industry keeps workers happy.

“Unfortunately, the grievances of both the public and ind­ustry have never been heeded. By winning the general elections, I will try to bring change, where iss­ues will be heard and resolved in the National Assem­bly,” he said.

Although Mr Rehman is up against a total of 22 candidates in both constituencies, he feels that the 650,000 or so voters in the area are quite well aware about the role of political parties. “Time has come to show practical results,” he added.

Talking about expenditure on his political campaign, he claimed he was running a simple drive with the help of business friends and well-wishers. “It is better to spend money on the welfare of deserving people instead of lavish campaigns,” he added.

Electronics market rep banks on PPP

The 47-year-old Mohammad Rizwan Irfan is president of the Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (KEDA). He is the PPP-backed candidate for PS-130 in Karachi’s District Central.

He is the son of Mohammad Irfan, who founded KEDA in 1978 and remained its president until he was killed in North Naziambad in 2013.

The late Mr Irfan was the first trader from Karachi to have received the Tamgha-i-Shujaat.

Talking about his plans, Mr Rizwan Irfan says he will be focusing on improving water supply and sewerage issues as well as road infrastructure in his area.

One of his main reasons for getting a PPP ticket was that the party has a long history of forming the government in Sindh, and resultantly holds power over the release of funds for various projects.

“The PPP is now serious in bringing in locals and resolving the issues of the general public,” he says, adding that he is the first person from his family to run for office.

Traders’ rep chooses TLP platform

 Sharjeel Gopalani
Sharjeel Gopalani

Mohammad Sharjeel Gopalani, president of the All-City Tajir Itehhad (ACTI), will be in the run for NA-239 as a candidate of the Tehreek-i-Lab­aik Pakistan (TLP) from Lyari.

Sharjeel will face PPP’s Nabil Gabol and candidates from the Jamaat-i-Islami, PTI, MQM-P as well as other independents in this 233,000-strong and politically charged constituency.

“It is encouraging that small and medium-sized traders are contesting elections to try and solve their and the people’s problems by themselves,” he says, lamenting the fate of Lyari, which has not changed one bit in years of PPP rule.

He told Dawn that the party he is supporting aims to eliminate the taxation system and introduce interest-free transactions in the country, along with reforms to the prevalent Zakat and Ushr system.

Mr Gopalani claims that if elected, he will spearhead efforts to make Lyari a “drug-free area” by establishing a police st­­a­­tion with the help of the Anti-Narcotics Force, imparting free education to children and encouraging people to use solar power.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2024

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