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November 8, 2019

MQM-Pakistan kicks off preparations for LG polls

Karachi

November 8, 2019

With the tenure of the local government bodies ending somewhere in the mid of next year, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has started its preparations for the upcoming local government polls by arranging workers’ conventions at nieghbourhood level as well as meetings with various communities to find suitable candidates.

The MQM-P, which has ruled the Karachi municipality for years, won the local government polls in 2015 by winning 137 out of 209 union committees of the Karachi Municipal Cooperation, and formed its government in the city and four out of six district municipal corporations – Central, East, Korangi and West.

However, the party faced a humiliating defeat in the 2018 general polls and only won four out of 21 National Assembly seats.

Analysts who study Karachi’s electoral politics closely believe that internal squabbles, organisational weakness after splitting from MQM founder Altaf Hussain, lack of funds and a surge in non-traditional voters all have contributed to the dismal performance of Karachi’s leading political party in this election. But the MQM-P leaders are optimistic that the party will sweep the local government polls again.

Syed Aminul Haque, MQM-P’s coordination committee member, said that the party had geared up preparations for the local government polls by organising public gatherings at neighborhood level and meetings of leaders of various communities living in the areas.

“In the past three weeks, the party had organised several gatherings in various areas, including Ranchore Lane, North Karachi and Paposh,” Haque, who is also MNA from Orangi Town, told The News.

“It is our assessment that the party would repeat the feat and win the majority of the seats in the KMC and five DMCs, adding District South,” he said. In District South, the MQM-P performed well but could not bring its district chairman because of differences in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which formed a district-level alliance with the MQM-P.

The MQM-P leaders said that local government elections were different from the national elections. The year 2015 was also turbulent for the party because of a law enforcement agencies’ crackdown at that time. But the party has faced the challenge from an alliance of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, but it still won most of the seats and installed its mayor in the municipality.

Analysts believe that the MQM-P had several advantages to win the upcoming polls in Muhajir nieghourbhoods. “In the Mohajir community, especially in its lower-income class, the MQM-P has emerged as a representative party in the current situation,” said Sagheer Hussain, a political analyst in Baldia Town.

He said that the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, in fact, spoiled the MQM-P’s traditional votes and the PTI managed to win seats mainly because of a surge in non-traditional voters and gerrymandering of the constituencies.

The PTI and the PPP did not have a proper organisational structure in Mohajir localities, while the JI, the TLP and the Pak Sarzameen Party could become the local challengers for the MQM-P in the upcoming polls in these localities , he said.

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