KARACHI, Dec 24: In the defunct district south, NA-249 is considered to be the safest seat for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement from where its leader Dr Farooq Sattar thrice returned to the national assembly and twice returned to provincial assembly seats.

It is the only constituency in the defunct district south where the MQM continues to dominate the electoral scene since 1988, with an exception in 1993 when the party had boycotted the national assembly polls.

Dr Sattar returned from this seat in the 1988, 1990 and the 1997 elections and to provincial assembly seats in 1993 and 1997 polls. He vacated the NA seat in 1997 and retained the provincial one. Later, MQM leader Babar Khan Ghori was elected on this seat in a by-election. The constituency comprises old city areas including Kharadar, Mithadar, Boultan Market, Ranchore Lane, Dharamsiwara, Nanakwara, Napier Quarters, Ramswami and Nabi Bakhsh Area, Jubilee Market, Pan Mandi and KMC Stadium in Saddar Town. Also in the constituency are some parts of Lyari including Saeedabad areas, Singoo Lane (partially), Sarbazi Mohalla, Lasi Mohalla, Mundra Mohalla, Bakra Piri, Allama Iqbal Colony and Usmanabad.

Majority of the population in this constituency of Memons, Marwaris, Ganchis and Gujratis with a sizable number of Baloch, Sindhi, Lasi and Urdu-speaking people.

The constituency is considered to be a stronghold of the MQM despite the fact that the population of the Urdu-speaking people is smaller than that of other communities.

Till the 1970s, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, headed by Shah Ahmed Noorani, had been a dominating political force in this constituency. In the 80s ethnic polarisation in the city changed the political trends in favour of the MQM and it emerged as a strong political force in the 1988 elections when its leader Dr Farooq Sattar defeated Abdul Habib Memon of the Pakistan People’s Party by securing 40,716 votes against the PPP’s nominee (16,028).

However, the PPP secured the seat when the MQM boycotted the National Assembly elections in 1993. PPP candidate Aziz Memon obtained 23,309 votes against the joint candidate of the PML and JUP, Hanif Tayyab, who bagged 19,439 votes.

In the 97 elections, Dr Farooq Sattar again returned by securing 27,711 votes against PML-N candidate Haji Hanif Tayyub who got 17,333 votes.

In the 2002 elections, the MQM once again secured the seat by fielding its Aamir candidate Liaquat Hussain.

To keep its hold on its traditional seat, the MQM has fielded Dr Sattar once again while the PPP has nominated Abdul Habib Memon as its candidate to contest the general elections 2008. Shabbir Abu Talib is the joint candidate of the JUP-Noorani and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal. Abdullah Baloch and Mohammad Asif Siddiqui are also in the run from the constituency.—LB

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