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July 18, 2018

ASWJ, major opponents in Malir now allies


July 18, 2018

With the general elections only a week away, the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) has managed to form an influential alliance to take on its rival political parties, especially the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), in its stronghold of Malir.

Under the banner of Awami Khidmat Panel (AKP), the ASWJ has reached an agreement for seat adjustments and electoral cooperation with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a dissenting PPP leader.

ASWJ chief Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, who is contesting for NA-238 from the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq Party, PML-N Sindh leader Javed Arsala Khan, a PS-89 candidate, former PPP Karachi president Haji Muzaffar Shajra, who is contesting as an independent for PS-91, and the PTI’s Ijaz Swati, a PS-90 candidate, will be the panel’s joint candidates and support each other in their respective constituencies.

Farooqi has already withdrawn his PS-91 nomination in favour of former provincial minister Shajra. Also, the Pakistan Muslim Alliance (PMA), a political group representing the Bengali community, has withdrawn its candidate Mufti Muhammad Rafi in favour of Farooqi, whose party has great influence in the community.

In the 2013 general elections, Farooqi had lost the then PS-128 with a margin of 202 votes. “We have formally entered into an electoral alliance with these parties and candidates in Malir for civic development of the district, which has been deprived of infrastructure, potable water and other basic amenities,” Farooqi, flanked by other candidates, said at a news conference on Tuesday while making the announcement about the alliance.

He said that all the parties that are now a part of the alliance possess basic organisational structures and greater vote banks in the district. “Local community elders, traders and residents have forced us to form the alliance because the voters are frustrated with their streets strewn with trash and inundated with sewage, and with water shortage and broken roads.”

The ASWJ chief laid the blame on the PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for not fixing the area’s civic problems when they were in government.

PPP versus AKP

Local analysts believe that the Farooqi-led electoral alliance in Malir has become a key challenger facing the PPP, which is confident that its candidates Agha Rafiullah, Saleem Kalmati Baloch, Mehmood Alam Jamot and Raza Abdul Razzaq will easily win the new constituencies of NA-238, PS-89, PS-91 and PS-90.

“Shajra, former PPP divisional president and provincial minister, will spoil Sindhi votes of the party, while the PMA’s support will help Farooqi bag Bengali votes from the coastal areas of Ibrahim Hyderi,” said an analyst. “Farooqi and the PML-N’s Javed Arsala Khan will be the main beneficiaries of the alliance.”

PML-N, ANP deal

The PML-N and the Awami National Party (ANP) have agreed to seat adjustments in District South, where the ANP will support PML-N candidate Afnanullah Khan for NA-247.

In return, the PML-N will support the ANP’s Abdul Qayyum Salarzai for PS-110. Afnanullah Khan is PML-N central leader Senator Mushahidullah Khan’s son, while Salarzai is the ANP’s district president and a vice-chairman of the Civil Lines union council.

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