In the preliminary delimitation, based on the controversial results of the 2017 population census, Karachi has received one National Assembly (NA) and four provincial assembly (PS) seats more than before, but political parties that claim to represent the city’s populace are accusing Sindh’s ruling party of manipulation and gerrymandering – in other words, pre-poll rigging.
Karachi had a quota of 20 NA and 40 PS seats, which has now been updated to 21 and 44 respectively. Interestingly, the increase has allegedly been made only in the West and Malir districts, where the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) enjoys a considerable sway, and some of the constituencies have been framed to benefit it.
Talking to The News on Thursday, Aminul Haque, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Bahadurabad group, claimed the PPP is acting on its policy of turning Urdu-speakers into Native Americans of Pakistan. “We totally reject this delimitation,” he remarked.
Haque claimed the PPP, in collusion with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), had manipulated District Central, which, he said, is the largest district in the country with 51 union councils, and its NA quota has been decreased from five to four. West and Malir districts have been awarded one more NA seat each, he added.
Waseem Aftab, senior vice-chairman of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), termed the delimitation “illegal” on the grounds that the five-percent third-party audit of Karachi’s census blocks is yet to be carried out. “How can this be done when we don’t have the correct numbers?”
Aftab claimed the city’s population is no less than 25 million, so, he said, at least nine million people have not even been counted. “This, by design, is an attempt to deprive the urban population of their rights even more.”
Referring to the delimitation of NA-246 (South-I), he said the constituency was made with 908,327 people while the average constituency population in the city is 764,523. “Meanwhile, a Malir constituency, NA-236, not to mention a PPP stronghold, has a population of 660,390.”
He claimed the PPP has manipulated the constituencies to gain an unlawful and unethical edge. “Constituencies that fall within the city have been deliberately made larger to put other parties in trouble. The so-called democratic government is robbing the urban populace of their rights again.”
According to ECP rules, the variation in population of constituencies should not exceed 10 per cent. Aftab said the rule has been violated in at least seven constituencies of the city.
He listed them as follows: NA-236, NA-237 (Malir-II), NA-238 (Malir-III), where the population is allegedly less than what it should have been, and NA-239 (Korangi-I), NA-240 (Korangi-II), NA-246 and NA-247 (South-II), where it has purportedly been shown more.
The ECP has stated that delimitations can be challenged no later than April 3, and the complainant must also submit a complete proposal to redress the balance because changing one constituency would affect the others.