KARACHI: Workers and supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement flocked to the offices of the Sindh election commission on Saturday to lodge a strong protest against the delimitation of 11 national and provincial assembly constituencies in Karachi, and the MQM vowed to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.
On Friday, the Election Commission of Pakistan notified delimitation of three constituencies of the National Assembly (NA- 239, 250 and 254) and eight constituencies of the Sindh Assembly (PS- 89, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 and 124) in Karachi in compliance with a 2011 directive of the Supreme Court in the Karachi violence suo motu proceedings.
Two of the three NA seats and seven of the eight provincial assembly seats had been won by the MQM in the 2008 general elections and subsequent by-elections on some of them.
Former MQM lawmakers elected from the now delimited constituencies were also part of the protest with the MQM workers, said to be residents of areas in the delimited constituencies.
Carrying placards and posters, the MQM workers, including women and children, shouted slogans against the ECP decision, termed it a gross injustice to the people of Karachi and rejected it.
While the protest was under way, an MQM delegation comprising former ministers Faisal Subzwari, Babar Ghauri and Adil Siddiqui called on Sindh Election Commissioner Mehboob Anwar and expressed their reservations over the decision. However, they were told that the decision was taken in the light of the apex court’s directives.
Later, MQM leader Subzwari said his party did not accept the ECP decision and would adopt a legal course against it.
He said the delimitation exercise should have been carried out across the country and not in Karachi alone. He told newsmen that the delimitation of constituencies only in Karachi was unconstitutional and illegal. “The decision was made to fulfil the desires of some people. We do not accept any act which is in contravention of law and the constitution.”
He said it was ironic that the constituencies were delimited without consulting residents or former elected representatives of those areas.
Mr Subzwari said if the election commission bowed to the pressure of a sit-in continued for a few hours by some religious and political parties, the MQM could stage a massive sit-in which might continue for days and even months.
He asked why the election commission notified the delimitation of the constituencies only in Karachi when it had announced the schedule for the next general elections, which were just 48 days away.
He said the MQM would challenge the decision before the superior judiciary soon.
He asked the ECP to withdraw the notification regarding the delimitation of 11 constituencies in Karachi.
Later, the protesters dispersed peacefully.
Karachi has 20 National Assembly and 42 provincial assembly seats. In the 2008 general elections, the MQM won 17 NA seats, while the remaining three seats were bagged by the PPP.
The PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel won the 2008 general elections from NA-239, the MQM’s Khushbakht Shujaat from NA-250 and the MQM’s Dr Ayoub Shaikh from NA-254.
Except for PS-89 from where the PPP’s Akhtar Jadoon had emerged victorious in 2008, the MQM had won all the seven provincial assembly constituencies which have now been delimited.