Bilawal Bhutto Zardari waves to supporters during a rally on the last day of the election campaign in Larkana, Sindh province, on February 6, 2024. — AFP

An electoral thriller set to unfold in Karachi’s district Central

Amid JI’s aggressive campaign, no smooth sailing for MQM-P in the presence of candidates backed by the London chapter.
Published February 7, 2024

ELECTORALLY speaking, Karachi’s district Central is the last district of Sindh. In terms of number of voters, it is the largest district of the province. Since 1988, the locality is considered a stronghold of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement until the 2018 general elections when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf marched into its fort by winning two of the four National Assembly and four of the eight Sindh Assembly seats.

This was the first election for the MQM-Pakistan after it parted ways with its London-based founder Altaf Hussain following his incendiary speech on Aug 22, 2016.

Despite the last year merger of all MQM groups, sans the groups led by Mr Hussain and Afaq Ahmed, the MQM-P gears for a tough competition against a strong Jamaat-i-Islami, a fragmented but popular PTI and independent candidates backed by Altaf-led MQM, which is commonly known as MQM-London.

District Central, which has a population of 3.8 million, is a densely populated area with a large Urdu speaking community. According to figures posted on the website of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, it has 195,162 people who speak Punjabi, 76,396 Sindhi, 164,192 Pushto, 25,065 Balochi, 8,199 Kashmiri, 161,746 Siraiki, 41,911 Hindko, 7,723 Brahvi and 188,219 who speak other languages.

The population speaking languages other than Urdu is close to 870,000, while the Urdu-speaking community alone is 2.1 million.

After the recent census and subsequent delimitation, the district got another Sindh Assembly seat.

The district is divided into Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, North Nazimabad, North Karachi and Gulberg sub-divisions.

Here the main areas are all blocks of North Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, F.B Area, Azizabad, Hussainabad, Karimabad, Power House, Dastagir, Moosa Colony, Mujahid Colony, Rizvia Colony, Sharifabad, Gharibabad, Al Azam Square, Yaseenabad, Water Pump, Yousuf Plaza, Samnabad, Sohrab Goth, Godhra, Tahir Villa, etc.

For decades, district Central was ‘owned’ by Altaf Hussain’s MQM, but in 2018, PTI won two of the four National Assembly seats — NA-254 by Muhammad Aslam Khan and NA-256 by Muhammad Najeeb Haroon.

MQM’s convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and its leader Usama Qadri won NA-255 and NA-253, respectively.

PTI and MQM-P won four provincial seats each out of the total eight in 2018.

However, after crackdown on PTI and merger of Muttahida factions, MQM-P looks determined to make a comeback in Central.

To make this happen, MQM-P has fielded two of its old guard, party convenor Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui (for NA-248) and Khwaja Izharul Hasan (for NA-247), and a brother of slain MQM lawmaker Khalid bin Waleed, Farhan Chishti (for NA-250).

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was never seen as a ‘rival’ by other parties in this district, looks desperate this time to win seats any here.

The PPP has actively engaged stakeholders and residents of district Central by expediting infrastructure projects, in order to, what critics say “have a leg to stand on” here.

The Jamaat-i-Islami, which enjoyed a clean sweep in the district in LG polls last year is also eager to represent the district.

The JI got the momentum going after winning the LG polls and hasn’t lost the grip since then, making them a strong contender, which other parties can’t write off.

Another major development which is expected to make a dent in MQM-P’s vote bank is the announcement of candidates by Altaf Hussain-led MQM-L.

While Altaf Hussain’s candidates may not be able to win the seats, they could surely hurt MQM-P’s vote bank.


It comprises areas of North Karachi and New Karachi, including Power House and Khawaja Ajmair Nagri.

NA-247 has 436,934 registered voters.

A total of 27 candidates are competing for this seat, but many see it as a comfortable win for MQM-P, given its history of winning from here even in 2018 polls, when Osama Qadri secured 52,426 votes from the then NA-253, when MQM altogether won only four seats from throughout the city.

However, given the JI’s current popularity, its candidate Monem Zafar Khan is expected to give a tough time to MQM.

Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan also enjoys a strong support here. It got 24,794 votes in last polls securing third place. PTI, who was runner-up, got 39,148.

This time PTI is backing an independent candidate, Abbas Hussain, who is contesting with election symbol of Clock.

MQM-L has also named Syed Muhammad Asif Raza with election symbol alphabet ‘A’.

The MQM-P has fielded Khwaja Izharul Hasan from this constituency.


The constituency has a total of 599,811 voters.

The previous NA-254, now NA-248, was won by PTI’s Muhammad Aslam Khan with 75,702 votes.

The constituency is expected to witness a tough competition as MQM-P head Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui is contesting from this seat. He will face PTI’s Arsalan Khalid, contesting with the symbol of alphabet ‘P’. MQM-L has nominated Nisar Ahmed, contesting with symbol ‘Key with Lock’.

It covers areas Azizabad, Hussainabad, all the blocks of F.B Area, Gulberg, Water Pump, Sohrab Goth, Ancholi, Godhra, Timber Market, etc.


MQM-P has named Ahmed Saleem Siddiqui to retain the seat, which was won by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui in 2018.

JI and PTI are expected to give a tough fight to MQM-P.

Given the results from 2018 polls, PTI’s Barrister Uzair Ghouri contesting with symbol alphabet ‘P’ is expected to trouble MQM-P, while JI’s Mian Muslim Pervaiz can also pull an upset.

With Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, Golimar, Moosa Colony, Mujahid Colony, the constituency has 554,641 voters.


This constituency is going to witness a neck-and-neck competition.

The constituency (NA-256 in 2018) was won by PTI’s Najeeb Haroon with 89,857 votes, followed by MQM-P’s Amir Wali Uddin Chishti with 45,575 votes.

PTI’s Riaz Haider is contesting with the symbol of ‘Dove’ from here. JI is also expected to be the strongest contender for this seat as its Karachi head Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman is contesting from this constituency.

MQM-P has nominated Farhan Chishti for this constituency.

PPP has given its ticket to MQM’s former MNA Khawaja Sohail Mansoor.

The constituency covers areas of Shadman Town, all blocks of North Nazimabad, Nusrat Bhutto Colony, Buffer Zone, Paposh, Haidery, etc. here the total voter count is 553,540.

Provincial Assembly seats

District Central has nine provincial assembly seats where nearly 300 candidates are in the run.

PS-122 has 207,082 votes; PS-123 198,670 votes; PS-124 207,319 votes; PS-125 268,186 votes; PS-126 270,552 votes; PS-127 245,634 votes; PS-128 259,126 votes; PS-129 263,532 votes and PS-130 224,825 votes.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2024

Header image: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari waves to supporters during a rally on the last day of the election campaign in Larkana, Sindh province, on February 6, 2024. — AFP

To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.