The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is likely to give the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) a run for its money in the race for Karachi’s provincial assembly constituency PS-128 (Central-VI).
An extensive survey of PS-128, which falls in the National Assembly constituency NA-255 (Central-III), found that the PTI can emerge as the biggest electoral rival to the MQM-P, which has so far been on a winning streak in the area that constitutes various Nazimabad zones and Block-W, a minor strip of North Nazimabad.
The MQM’s Rehan Zafar won the then PS-104 in the general elections of 2008 and 2013, whereas the party’s Moeen Khan secured the seat in the 2002 polls. The rift within the MQM’s ranks seems to be benefiting other political players, particularly the PTI. Some of the former MQM supporters also seem interested in a shake-up by voting for the PTI.
However, the silent majority, who are yet to decide if they will cast their ballots, also seem inclined towards the PTI, which had finished runner-up in the constituency five years ago.
The locals rate the PTI’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as effective and a source of motivation for them to support the party in the race for PS-128.
Majority of the residents, belonging to different ethnic backgrounds, said both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have been provided with several opportunities to govern the country, but now it is time to put the PTI to the test.
Nineteen candidates, including six independents, are contesting for PS-128. The major contenders include Muhammad Abbas Jafferi of the MQM-P, Nusrat Anwar of the PTI, Muhammad Arif Hussain Qureshi of the PPP, Syed Wajih Hasan of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Taha Ahmed Khan of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Mohsin Jawed Dar of the PML-N.
There is a substantial population of Pathans in the constituency, particularly in Musarrat Colony and Mujahid Colony. Majority of them, however, will not be voting for the Awami National Party (ANP).
The ANP has fielded the young Battagram-born Fazal Qayyum, who is the party’s central vice-president for Karachi and runs a hosiery business in the metropolis.
The local Pakhtuns say the ANP has never done anything for them, which is the principal reason for them to not vote for the party on July 25.
Apparently oblivious to the situation on the ground, Qayyum seemed optimistic about the possibility of his victory. “There are around 30,000 Pakhtuns in this area. If I get around 17,000 votes, I can win the PS-128 seat.”
While the MQM-P is confident of retaining the seat, a chunk of the locals favours the PSP because of its chief and former city mayor Mustafa Kamal, who, they say, serves effectively whenever given an opportunity.
Despite launching a vigorous campaign in the area, the MMA has seemingly not left any major impression. The residents believe that only the Jamaat-e-Islami’s presence in the constituency may benefit the MMA.
The PML-N can also benefit from the largely peaceful atmosphere in the metropolis over the past several years, thanks to the party’s federal government that had ordered launching the Karachi operation.
The local business community is also happy with the growth of their respective trades during the PML-N government.
“In the past we could hardly keep our shops open for an entire week due to various protests, but now we’re peacefully running our businesses without any disruption,” said a dealer in Jalalabad, Nazimabad No 1. “This is what we want. The PML-N played a major role in maintaining peace in Karachi.”
One hundred and forty-two polling stations have been set up in the constituency. The residents, who have been braving numerous civic problems, plan to vote in someone who will rid their area of its persistent problems.
Besides the pressing issues of potable water, sanitation and prolonged electricity load-shedding, heaps of garbage strewn across the streets in various localities paints quite a nauseating picture of the constituency.