Tuesday April 16, 2024

PTI, JI and PPP main contenders in local govt elections in District South

By Arshad Yousafzai
January 13, 2023

District South of Karachi may seem large on the map but in terms of the number of its union committees and wards, it is the smallest district of the city because a large part of it comes under multiple cantonment boards, which are not in the jurisdiction of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

For the coming local government elections, District South has been divided into two towns — Saddar and Lyari. There are a total of 26 union committees (UCs) in District South equally divided between the two towns.

The number of wards in the district are 104 — 52 each in Saddar and Lyari Towns. A total of 1,398 candidates are in the run in 26 UCs. Of them, 359 are contesting for the chairman and vice chairman and as many as 1,039 general members for the wards.

The Election Commission has set up around 480 polling stations, including 283 sensitive and 197 highly sensitive polling stations. A total of 995,054 voters, including 549,911 men and 445,143 women, would be eligible to cast their votes in the polls in District South.

Saddar Town

No political party can be termed favourite in Saddar Town as the voters here are heavily divided in terms of their support for political parties.

The main contest seems to be between four political parties — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). There are also many supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Pakistan Sunni Tehreek in various localities of Saddar Town.

The JI, PTI and PPP have held extensive campaigns to seek votes in Saddar Town. A majority of the candidates in Saddar Town are Urdu speaking, but a significant number of candidates from the Bohra, Ismaili and Kutchi Memon communities are also in the fray as these communities have pockets in the Saddar area.

Syed Najmi Alam, who might be the PPP’s candidate for the mayor or deputy mayor of Karachi, is in the run for the vice chairman of UC-12 in Saddar Town. Alam is also contesting for the chairmanship of UC-11 of the same town where he will be facing PTI parliamentary leader in the Sindh Assembly Khurrum Sher Zaman. In the same UC, the JI has fielded Maaz Liaquat, who was formerly associated with the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba.

Lyari Town

The PPP has fielded more candidates in Lyari Town compared to other parties. However, dissident workers of the party may create problems for the PPP’s candidates.

The JI is likely to benefit most from the divided vote bank of the PPP. The only Sindh Assembly member of the JI, Syed Abdur Rasheed, was also elected from Lyari in the 2018 general elections. However, he had contested the elections from the platform of the electoral alliance of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and was supported by various religious schools of thought.

A majority of the candidates in Lyari Town are Baloch or Kutchi. However, some Pakhtun and Urdu-speaking contestants are also contesting in some UCs of the town.

The second Sindh Assembly seat from Lyari in the 2018 general elections was bagged by the TLP’s Mohammad Younus Soomro. However, political analysts say the TLP seems not strong in the area this time because Soomro has rarely visited the constituency.

Before the 2018 elections, the PPP was considered to be undefeatable in Lyari. This impression was destroyed in the last general polls as the party could neither win the National Assembly seat nor the two provincial assembly seats from the area. PTI’s Abdul Shakoor Shad defeating PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from Lyari was perhaps the biggest upset of the elections.

However, the PTI is divided this time in two groups. One of the groups is being supported by MNA Shad who has developed differences with the party leadership. He was unhappy over the selection of UC candidates by the party. Later, his differences with the PTI’s top cadre reached to such an extent that he challenged his resignation in the Islamabad High Court against the party policy.

Currently, the PTI has suspended Shad’s party membership. There are also some reports that the PPP has gained the sympathies of Shad and his followers may vote for the PPP instead of the PTI.