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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Close contest expected between PTI, JI and MQM-P in District West

By Zubair Ashraf
February 06, 2024

Largely comprising congested and underprivileged neighbourhoods, Karachi’s District West may see a tough contest between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) in the elections on Thursday. However, the recent announcement of the MQM-London of its support for independent candidates across the city may damage the MQM-P’s votes.

Commuters move past the election banners of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) parties hung over a street ahead of the upcoming general elections, in Karachi on January 24, 2024. — AFP)
Commuters move past the election banners of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) parties hung over a street ahead of the upcoming general elections, in Karachi on January 24, 2024. — AFP)

District West is the third largest district of Karachi by size and the fourth largest by population. It has three subdivisions: Orangi, Mominabad and Mangophir.

In the last general elections, the district was the largest of the Karachi division with five National Assembly constituencies. However, after District Keamari was carved out of it, West has been left with three NA constituencies this time namely NA-244 West I, NA-245 West II and NA-246 West III.

A total of six Sindh Assembly constituencies PS-116 PS-117, PS-118, PS-119, PS-120 and PS-121 fall within these constituencies.

Population

The district has a population of over two million, of whom 936,828 people are eligible to cast their votes in the General Elections 2024 scheduled on February 8.

Among these voters, millennials make the majority who are approximately 50 per cent of the total voters. They are followed by Gen X (25 per cent), Gen Z (15 per cent) and then come the Baby Boomers who are 10 per cent roughly.

The district has a mixed demography with a considerable number of Pakhtuns. Urdu speakers make up a majority here with 42 per cent of the population. They are followed by Pashto speakers who constitute 15 per cent of the residents of the district.

Sindhi and Punjabi speakers are almost equal here with 10 per cent share in the population each. The rest of the population comprises those speaking Seraiki, Hindko, Balochi, Brahvi and Kashmiri.

NA-244

NA-244 West I is the largest constituency of District West by size and smallest in terms of the number of the voters. It covers the Manghopir sub-division, including the Gulshan-e-Maymar, Taiser Town, Khuda Ki Basti, Surjani Town and Yousuf Goth areas.

Two Sindh Assembly constituencies — PS-116 and PS-117 — entirely and one provincial constituency PS-118 partially fall in NA-244.

A total of 155,682 voters are in this constituency where a total of 24 candidates are contesting for election to the National Assembly.

The candidates include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed independent candidate Aftab Jehangir, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Farooq Sattar, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Abdul Berr, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) Zameer Hussain, Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI’s) Irfan Ahmed and MQM founder Altaf Hussain-backed independent candidate Rehmat Ali Rehmani.

In the last general elections, this seat was named NA-252 and won by the PTI’s Jehangir who is again in the fray.

The MQM-P came second in the 2018 elections, followed by the TLP and JI.

With the PTI facing challenges in the aftermath of the May 9, 2023 violent incidents against the state, the MQM-P seems to be in a good position to win this constituency, having their senior deputy convener and seasoned politician Dr Sattar in the fray.

Before the PTI emerged as a popular city of Karachi, the MQM had traditionally been winning this constituency.

However, the JI with their robust election campaigning, championing the cause of Karachi, also seems to be in a challenging position.

The TLP with their vote bank based on religious sentiments seems not to be in a winning position but it may serve as a spoiler for the MQM.

Interestingly, the MQM-London has this time announced its support for independent candidates across the city, which has caused a stir in the election climate. The presence of the MQM-London-backed candidate on the ballot may also result in some surprise on the polling day.

NA-245

The total number of voters in NA-245 is 375,285. The Sindh Assembly constituencies in NA-245 are PS-118 and PS-119, of which PS-118 partially falls in it.

NA-245 covers Orangi sub-division, including Qasba Colony, Kunwari Colony, Kati Pahari, Pirabad, Muslimabad, Frontier Colony, Aligarh Colony and other areas of Orangi Town.

A total of 24 candidates are contesting here. The notable among them are the PTI-backed Ataullah, MQM-P’s Hafeezuddin, JI’s Ishaq Khan, TLP’s Wazir Noorani, PPP’s Siddiq Akbar, Awami National Party’s Amir Nawab and MQM-London-backed Muhammad Idrees.

This seat, previously NA-250, was won by the PTI’s Ataullah in the last general elections. He is contesting again to retain the seat. However, the MQM-P and JI are also in a challenging position and there may be a close contest between these three parties.

Just like NA-244, the TLP may act as a spoiler here and the MQM-London’s presence may also give a surprise.

NA-246

NA-246 has the largest number of voters in District West, which is 432,861. Two Sindh Assembly seats, PS-120 and PS-121, fall within the constituency that mainly covers the Mominabad sub-division, including Zia Colony, Islam Nagar, Mujahid Colony, Faqir Colony, Fareed Colony, Haryana Colony, Imam Colony, Christian Colony, Gulshan-e-Zia and other areas of Orangi Town.

Like NA-244 and NA-245, the total number of candidates in NA-246 is also 24. They include MQM-P’s Amin Ul Haque, JI’s Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman, TLP’s Muhammad Ali, PTI-backed independent candidate Malik Arif Awan, PPP’s Waseem Akhtar and MQM-London-backed independent candidate Muhammad Kamal.

This seat, previously NA-251, was won by the MQM-P’s Haque in the previous general elections. He later became federal minister for telecommunication. As he tries to retain the constituency, the JI’s Rehman, who is the Karachi chief of the party, is a strong contender here.

The JI has won from these areas in the 2002 general elections when the party was part of the religious alliance Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

Rehman is the most prominent face of the JI in Karachi and has advocated the case of Karachi vehemently on streets and in the City Council.

Moreover, the PTI, which was the runner-up in the 2018 elections, can also cause upset because of the rising popularity the party following the state-led crackdown against it.

The TLP and MQM-London may harm Haque’s prospects here and help Rehman win.