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August 6, 2018

PTI plans to snatch PS-87 from PPP to consolidate win


August 6, 2018

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has won most of the national and provincial assembly seats in Karachi. To consolidate its victory, the party is planning to snatch PS-87 (Malir-I) from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which secured the seat in the past three general elections.

Less than a fortnight before the July 25 general elections, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s candidate for PS-87, Sharif Ahmed Khan, died in a road traffic accident, following which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notified the postponement of the race for the provincial assembly constituency.

Although the ECP is yet to announce the date for the PS-87 poll, the PTI has already kicked off its campaign to push the PPP out and claim the constituency. Continuing with tradition, the PPP has fielded Sajid Jokhio, the party’s District Malir general secretary and former provincial minister, who won the constituency, known as PS-130 before the current delimitation, thrice in a row.

Jam Abdul Karim Bijar, chieftain of the Jokhio tribe, won the National Assembly constituency NA-236 on a PPP ticket this election, but the race for PS-87 seems tricky. Local analysts believe that the PPP is already facing challenges in the provincial assembly constituency mainly because of the gradual and serious changes in the area’s demography as well as the rift between various Sindhi communities over party tickets being issued only to Jokhio and Baloch leaders.

One of the important aspects of the constituency is that the majority of the population lives in villages, but the votes of the urban population in localities such as Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Steel Town, Shah Town and the recently established neighbourhoods along the National Highway are likely to influence the election.

Taking advantage of the situation, the PTI has fielded local clan leader Qadir Bakhsh Gabol, who has managed to muster support of other communities, such as Burfat, Memon and Palari. The party also found a strong vote bank in Gulshan-e-Hadeed, Pipri, Shah Town and Steel Town in the race for the NA-236 seat in last month’s general elections.

Haleem Adil Sheikh, the PTI’s provincial vice-president and MPA-elect, said the party is in a good position to secure PS-87. “Malir is the PTI’s fort, where the party has defeated the PPP’s top man Abdul Hakeem Baloch in the race for NA-237 [Malir-II],” he told The News.

“In NA-236, the PPP’s Bijar won because he is a tribal chieftain and a new candidate, while in NA-238 [Malir-III], the PTI had to withdraw its original candidate for complying with the five per cent quota for women,” said Sheikh. He insisted that his party will defeat Jokhio because of his “worst performance” in his past tenures.

However, the PPP, which is restricted to Sindhi-populated suburban areas, except the PS-104 (East-VI) constituency, is confident of reclaiming PS-87, one of the party’s traditional strongholds.

“We don’t consider the PTI a serious contender for the seat,” said a PPP District Malir leader. He said his party won NA-236, under which PS-87 falls, with a great margin. Bijar won NA-236 with 66,623 votes, while the PTI’s Masroor Ali Sial finished runner-up with 26,456 votes.

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