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KARACHI: Muttahida and MMA in the race for NA-254

September 30, 2002

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KARACHI, Sept 29: With the well-oiled organizational juggernaut of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement rumbling across the length and breadth of the NA-254 constituency and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s train chugging alongside, the vehicles of smaller denominations should better stay out of their way. However, the Sunni Tehrik enthusiasts, hurtling around in a roller-coaster, and the People’s Party’s activists perched on an open truck, insist that they each have a capacity to carry as many electoral passengers.

Farooq Leghari and company’s tractor is also in the field, but that is just an election symbol. So is a car. And their roar and speed signify nothing.

The other organizations could be likened to old-fashioned carts — driven by bullocks, horses, camels and donkeys — rolling down the road on a speed not calculated to win the race.

This constituency, Karachi-XVI, formerly in District East, stretches from Qayyumabad on Korangi Road up to Korangi-4, touching Zaman Town in NA-255. On the way, it takes into its folds Bhitai Colony, Darussalam Housing Society, Christian Town, Nasir Colony and Korangi 1 to 4. Horizontally it casts its network on Altaf Town, PAF Base Korangi Creek, Coast Guard, Chakra Goth, Zia Colony, Nizam-i-Mustafa Colony, Hasrat Mohani Colony, Allahwala Town, Gulzar Colony, Bilal Colony, Korangi Industrial Area, P & T Colony, 100 Quarters, Gilgit Colony, Abdullah Shah Noorani Colony, and various sectors of Korangi.

There are a total of 14 candidates aspiring to grab the seat.

As in the earlier elections, the final results may turn up some surprises, defying all guesstimates. This could be also partly attributed to the fresh demarcation of boundaries for the increased number of constituencies. The main contestants, however, appear to be the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Nawab Mirza, and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal’s Syed Zahid Siraj.

Nawab Mirza, hailing from Hyderabad, is a high court lawyer and former parliamentarian. Zahid Siraj is a religious leader holding Master’s degrees in three subjects. The People’s Party’s Farzana Latif is a young lawyer, practising in the City Courts, and new entrant in the political arena. Sarwat Ejaz, an engineer, belongs to the Sunni Tehrik, and Mohammad Akhtar Shad to the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.

The other candidates and their election symbols are: Akhtar Hussain Awan (tiger), Dr Mohammad Fahimuddin (lock), Amiruddin Moo (crescent), Dr Abdul Ghafoor (lota), Mohammad Karimur Rehman (clock), Ali Haider Salim (bat), Dr Qadeer Ahmed Abbasi (apple), Saghir Siddiqui (car) and Abdul Hafiz (fish).

Although the MQM’s Nawab Mirza is a strong contender for the seat, the MMA’s Syed Zahid Siraj is also a hard nut to crack. To achieve their goal, his supporters are concentrating on the areas dominated by the Urdu-speaking community — Nasir Colony to Korangi 1 - 4 and the adjoining sectors. The other localities such as Qayyumabad, Bilal Colony and Gulzar Colony are dominated by Punjabi- and Pushtu-speaking communities. The twin localities of Bhitai Colony and Altaf Town are almost evenly divided among the three linguistic communities, with a good number of Sindhi-people also living there. The absence of the PML-N in the constituency may benefit the MMA, which is a conglomerate of six religious parties.

The PPP’s Farzana Latif, catapulted into the position by the changed electoral conditions, doesn’t pose a big threat to her two rivals. Earlier at a camp in Bhitai Colony PPP workers said the lady was not well off and could not afford to pay for her proper campaigning. “I just rang her up to ask whether she wants her banners to be strung along those of PS-124 candidate Ghulam Hussain Memon’s,” said an activist, meaning that she would have to pay for the job. PPP candidates such as Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, contesting for NA-250, are spending money like water on their campaigning. This also shows that most of the electioneering depends on the candidates personal financial capability. And there is no party spirit behind the PPP election campaign.

If the woman performs poorly in the election, she should not blame it on the voters. The detachment of Ibrahim Hyderi from its previous may also adversely affect the PPP position as the locality, populated by mostly by Sindhi-speaking fishermen, had been a traditional supporter of the PPP.

Besides, the Sunni Tehrik is also very active in the constituency, and might claim a large chunk of the votes cast. The ST’s gain would apparently translate into the loss of the religious MMA. But the MMA supporters tend to believe that the ST, rooted deeply in the Urdu-speaking community, would rather slash the MQM vote bank.

Fired by their youthful energy and drunk with religious fervour, the ST supporters insist that the actual fight is between their party and the MQM. The MMA is just a spoilsport, they claim.

It is ironic that when the MQM activists have begun to show maturity and restraint, its foes have adopted an aggressive posture. They triumphantly assert that they have made inroads # into the MQM strongholds.

As elsewhere in the city, the MQM posters, banners and flags outnumber, outsize and ‘outfly’ all others’. The MMA workers desperate to catch up with the MQM effort, moan about scant funds groan about the MQM’s use of extra-legal methods in electioneering. “They either pay nothing to the painters, or pay only part of an agreed fee,” says an MMA worker. “The rest of the amount they say is their contribution to the election fund.”

As a general indifference is prevalent towards the Oct 10 election, any party working harder and able to pull the people along to the polling stations may snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

In the past, this seat had been guaranteed to go the MQM’s way.

In the last election, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s, then called the Haq Parast Group, candidate Mohammad Arif Khan won the seat with 38,637 votes. His nearest rival, Tubeh Durrani of the PML, polled 12,945 votes. Haji Muzaffar Ali Shujra, who contested as an independent candidate, received 7,226 votes and the Mohajir Qaumi Movement’s Nazir Ahmed got 3,150. The total registered votes were 219,609.

In the 1993 election, boycotted by the MQM, Muzaffar Ali Shujra contested for the seat on a PPP ticket and clinched it, securing 13,709 votes. His runners-up was the PML-N’s Mansoor Ahmed Sootwala, who got 9,412 votes. The IJM’s Mohammed Ahmed Siddiqui got 3,433, an independent candidate, Haji Shoukat Islam, received 1,913, and the HG’s Mohammad Naim 1,588. The total registered votes were 206,342.

In the 1990 general election, the HPG’s Syed Amin-ul-Haq, who later parted ways with the party to side with the Afaq group and later still fled the country, defeated his nearest rival with a big margin. Amin polled 71,807 with the PDA’s Mohammad Khalid Qureshi trailing behind with 15,400. The IJI’s Pir Mohammed Fazal Haq received 3,516 of the total 201,405 registered votes.

Earlier, too, in 1988, Syed Amin-ul-Haq, contesting as an independent candidate, but obviously with MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s blessings, won the seat with 60,482 votes. The PPP’s Syed Iqbal Hyder received 13,576, the PPI’s Mohammad Younus 8,701 and the IJI’s Khawaja Mohammad Sharful Islam got 6,354 votes.

PS seats: Although, both the MMA and PPP activists doubt their victory on the national assembly seat (NA-254), they each claim to be the strongest contender for this provincial assembly seat. By the way, the PPP’s Ghulam Mustafa Memon had earlier lost a councillor’s election. His supporters, however, cite several such instances where a candidate has lost election at a low level but won at a high level

The 15 candidates in the run for PS-124, Karachi XXXVII, with their election symbols are: Syed Talib Imam, kite; Yasmeen Jehangir, bat; Mohammad Aslam, coat; Fatima Ismail, candle; Dilshad Khan, tractor; Syed Mukhtiar-ul-Hasan Gohar, book; Ghulam Mustafa Memon, arrow; Mohammad Waseemur Rehman, telephone; Mohammad Asghar, map; Fazal Deen Qadri, table lamp; Syed Hyder Abbas Rizvi, lock; Maulana Bashir Ahmed, cow; Noor Islam, fish; Qari Mohammad Rustom, helicopter, and S. Pervaiz Ali Shah Jilani, roller of wood.

The 15 candidates contesting for PS-125 and their symbols are: Dr Shahzad Ahmed, lota; Mohammad Ali, candle; Sarwar Sher Khan, telephone; Abid Ali, bat; Mohammad Aslam Mujahid, book; Meharuddin Afzal, coat; Ghaus Bakhsh Shah, arrow; Mohammad Jamil Kausar, tiger; Maulana Rehmatullah Farooqui, fish; Mohammad Kaleemur Rehman, clock; Mohammad Saleem Qureshi, fan; Mohammad Moeen Amir Pirzada, kite; Riaz Ali, lantern, and M. Anwar Husain, car.

The areas PS-124, Karachi-XXXVI, comprises are:

Charge No 35: Sector 48-F, Korangi, Arkanabad, Gulshan-i- Mustafa, Nishtar Colony, Sector 48-E, 48-C Korangi Usmania Masjid, Sector 48-B, 16000 Road, Sector 48-A/1, Gilgit Colony, Sector 48-A/1, Shah Noorani Colony, Sector 48-H, Silver Town, Ghousia Colony, Sector 48-B, 48-D, Abdullah Shah Noorani Colony, 40-C Area and Area Korangi 7000 Road, Sector 41-A & 41-B, Chinniot General Hospital, R-45.

Charge 36: Qayyumabad sectors A, B, C, & D, Sector 32-B, Korangi, Sector 32-A Korangi, Zia Colony, Sector 32-E, Nasir Colony, Dar-us-Salam Society, P & T Colony, Abdul Khaliq Allah Wala Town.

Korangi Cantt: Army Barracks, Bhitai Colony sectors A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. Sector 30-A, Korangi, and Altaf Town.

PS-125, Karachi-XXXII, comprises:

Charge No 26: Korangi Industrial Area, 10000 Road, Awami Colony, 8000 Road, and Singer Chowrangi.

Charge 38: Sector 8-A, 8-B, 8-C, Korangi; Bilal Colony, Sector 7-A, Korangi Industrial Area; Sector 16 and 24, and 7-A Korangi Industrial Area.

Shareefabad, near Mehran Town, Chamra Mandi, Foundation Gas Plant, Nusrat Colony, Sector 17, Korangi.

Charge 39: Sectors 33-A, 33-D, 33-E, 33-C, 34/3, 35-C and 33-A.

Charge 37: Sector 32-B and 32-D, Korangi, Malir Cantonment, Gujro Town Committee, Darsano Channo, Landhi and STC of Malir Taluka.