KARACHI, Oct 11: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement suffered a setback in the general elections in its Karachi and Hyderabad strongholds.
This trend was being anticipated from the day electioneering kicked off in the two cities, especially in Karachi, but no one expected that the party’s support to the military rulers could cost it to the extent of losing half a dozen seats to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, the alliance of six religio- political parties.
According to the latest available unofficial results, the MQM has won back 12 out of 20 seats of the National Assembly, and the MMA succeeded in striking back when its seven candidates managed to reach the assembly. However, the Pakistan People’s Party retained its two seats with the return of Sher Mohammed Baloch and Nabil Gabol.
Those elected to the National Assembly on the MQM ticket are Abdul Rauf Siddiqui from NA-242, S. Haider Abbas Rizvi from NA-244, Kunwar Khalid Yunus from NA-245, Azizullah Brohi from NA-246, Amir Liaquat Husain from NA-249, Safwanullah from NA-251, Nawab Mirza from NA-254, Iqbal M. Ali Khan from NA-256, M. Shamim Siddiqui from NA-257, Sultan Ahmed Khan from NA-243 and Israrul Ibad from NA-247.
The Alliance includes two parties, the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, which were dislodged from the electoral field with the emergence of the MQM on the political horizon. Now after 15 years, during which the city witnessed four general elections, in the Friday’s elections these parties have settled their score by taking back a good number of the their lost seats. Those returned on the MMA tickets are:
Hakim Qari Gul Rehman, who is from the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (S), NA-239, M. Laeeq Khan from NA-241, Abdul Sattar Afghani from NA-250, Mohammed Husain Mehanti from NA-252, Asadullah Bhutto from NA-253 and M. Aslam Mujahid from NA- 255.
According to political circles, one of the reasons why the MQM lost grounds was failure on the part of its workers to mobilize supporters who did not approve the policy of supporting the military rule. They became disenchanted because the party extended unconditional support to Gen Pervez Musharraf who, during his three years’ rule, not only failed to create new job opportunities but has also resorted to massive retrenchment and increased charges of utilities.
All these harsh economic measures have made life miserable for the middle and lower-middle classes who comprise the majority of MQM supporters.
As against this, the MMA and the PPP, by criticizing the policies of the military rulers, successfully cashed the anti-government feeling prevailing among their supporters who came out to cast their votes in large numbers braving sizzling temperatures.
Another surprise of the general elections is the disappearance of the PML (Nawaz) from NA constituencies in the city. They party had two seats in the dissolved assembly. The PML (Q), which landed as the “King’s Party,” also failed to make any impact. Other parties which had also fielded candidates from the city with much fanfare included the Pakistan Awami Tehrik, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and National Alliance, but they were disappointed.
The MMA Sindh Information Secretary, Qari Mohammed Osman, has contested the result of NA-242 in which Abdul Rauf Siddiqui of the MQM has been declared the winner.
He said, in a statement faxed to Dawn, that the MMA candidate from the constituency, Maulana Shireen Mohammed, had won the seat in the result handed over to his political agents, while the MQM candidate was in the second place. But on Friday, after Friday prayers, in the result the MQM candidate was declared the winner.
Terming it a crude way of rigging and resort to dishonest practices, he said the MMA would never accept the “changed” result of NA-240.
HE SAID: “The announcement of result after more than 24 hours not only has proved partiality of the returning officer concerned, but also that the results have been engineered after removing ballot boxes from polling stations.”
The MMA leader demanded of the Chief Election Commissioner, Justice Irshad Hasan Khan, and the Provincial Election Commissioner, Halepota, to take notice “of the change of result and announce immediately the real result.”
In another petition, sent by the MMA candidate from NA-247, Hafiz Mohammed Taqi, to the Chief Election Commissioner, the MMA claimed that “goons” of the MQM on the polling day around 4:30 pm suddenly raided polling stations set up in different educational institutions in Liaquatabad and took over their control for more than an hour and packed ballot boxes ignoring protests by polling agents.
The polling staff remained silent spectators because of fear. Later after 5:30pm the unlawful occupation ended after higher authorities and police officers came there, the petition said.
Against the 20 seats of the national assembly in the city, there were 269 candidates in the run, while the 42 provincial assembly seats were contested by 623 aspirants.
The condition of presentation of NIC cards in the original was strictly adhered to. For want of security personnel, the administration had acquired the services of private security agencies.
Discrepancies in the voters’ lists supplied to agents and # polling officers were also reported from many polling stations.
On Thursday, in most constituencies, the camps that were crowded either belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement or the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal. According to observers, the MMA’s anti-US stand has gone well with the sentiments of electorates.
In Karachi where there are about 14 million souls, there are 4,747,552 registered voters, whom the candidates, contesting on the 20 National assembly and 42 provincial assembly seats, failed to attract in great numbers in corner and public meetings.
Analysts say emergence of the middle class and its mobilization is essential for the strengthening of democracy, but none of the political parties contributed to its emergence.
They also failed to give a blue print of their policy for the working class of this port city. Nor had they any plan for gearing up industrial activity and revival of sick units to generate employment and add to the income of the province.
In a metropolis (Karachi) where one has seen many water-related scuffles and complaints of water contamination, not much attention was given to the problem, though some candidates had no other option, due to the nature of their constituencies.
Similarly, though some parties lent support to the Karachi Mass Transit and revival of the Karachi Circular Railway projects, these could not become a major election issue.