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October 8, 2018

Amid lukewarm campaign, tough PPP-PTI fight in PS-87 likely

National

October 8, 2018

KARACHI: Political parties, including two major rivals – the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – contesting the October 14 by-polls in PS-87, Malir-I have failed to accelerate electoral activities in the outskirts of the metropolis.

The polling in PS-87 was postponed in July after a contestant, Sharif Ahmed Khan of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, died in a road accident on the National Highway on July 14, less than a fortnight before the general elections.

A total of 26 candidates, belonging to political parties and independents, are contesting the October 14 by-polls. However, political analysts observing the election closely believe that the actual contest is between the PPP’s Sajid Jokhio and the PTI’s Qadir Bakhsh Gabol. The TLP is also back in the race for the seat with another candidate, Qurban Ali, while the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan and the Pak Sarzameen Party have fielded Khalida Ateeb and Muhammad Saleem, respectively.

Although the election is almost a week away, the enthusiasm in the constituency’s voters that was witnessed in the lead up to the July 25 general polls is not visible yet. Every political party fears a low turnout mainly because of the possible lukewarm response of the voters.

Confident of winning the constituency with a large margin, the PPP has fielded Jokhio, the party’s District Malir general secretary and former provincial minister, who won the constituency when it was known as PS-130 before the current delimitation, thrice in a row.

The PPP is hopeful to retain this seat since the majority of the population – mainly Sindhis and Balochs – lives in villages which makes it different from much of the rest of the city. However, the middle-class areas of Gulshan-e-Hadeed and Steel Town and newly-built impoverished areas on the National Highway, mainly inhabited by Pashtuns, might help the PTI clinch the seat.

Jam Abdul Karim Bijar, the chief of the Jokhio tribe, won the National Assembly constituency NA-236 under which PS-87 lies, on a PPP ticket in July. The constituency also does not fall under the Karachi Municipal Corporation and comes under the domain of the District Council Karachi, a separate borough for the city’s rural and coastal areas revived by the PPP few years ago. As the PPP rules the District Council, it is also helping the PPP candidate to his likely electoral success.

However, local analysts believe that for the ruling party in the province, the race for PS-87 does not seem so simple.

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 the general elections.

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 in Malir district being issued only to Jokhio and Baloch leaders.

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