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April 13, 2021

NA-249 by-poll: Candidates woo voters with promises of water

National

April 13, 2021

KARACHI: Keeping in view the scarcity of water in various neighbourhoods falling under the NA-249 constituency, candidates of all the political parties contesting the by-election are politicking around the issue that every resident has been facing for the past several decades.

For the majority of the voters in the constituency as well, the drinking water crisis is a major issue and they are demanding candidates contesting the by-poll to come up with a clear-cut and time-bound solution for the same.

Long lines of blue plastic drums, canisters, buckets and bottles outside the water supply tanks are clearly seen in most of the neighbourhoods in the constituency. Tankers and donkey carts are also seen selling water to the residents.

In the 2018 general elections, the residents of the constituency had voted in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) senior leader Faisal Vawda, with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) supremo and Punjab’s former chief minister losing with a low margin. When Prime Minister Imran Khan had made Vawda the federal minister for water resources, the residents of the constituency were happy that he could resolve their issue of water scarcity.

“But like his predecessors, Vawda also did not do anything to resolve the water problem in the constituency,” said Shabbir Tanoli, a resident of the Rashidabad area.Now, when Vawda resigned from the seat after casting his vote in the Senate polls and becoming a senator, the election commission has announced conducting a by-poll for the constituency on April 29.

As part of their electioneering for the contest, all the candidates in the run for the NA-249 seat have made water scarcity the core issue of their respective campaigns.

Syed Mustafa Kamal, the Pak Sarzameen Party’s chairman and a former mayor of Karachi, is also in the race for the constituency. Addressing an election rally in the constituency on Sunday night, he told the locals that he understands the civic issues, particularly water scarcity, in the area, and has the ability to resolve them.

“During my mayorship, a water line to carry 4.8 million gallons was laid down for Baldia Town,” he claimed. He said 178 illegal connections and 25 hydrants exist on the water line.

Similarly, Miftah Ismail, the PML-N’s candidate and former finance minister who is also one of the strongest candidates, admitted in his election campaign that chemical-tainted dirty water is mixed with safe drinking water, and has been causing various diseases among the residents of the constituency.

“Now, God willing, after winning the by-poll, I will put a plan in place to provide clean water, which will solve this problem forever,” he promised to the residents of Ittehad Town in an election meeting.

Candidates of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the PTI, the two parties that have been ruling Sindh and the Centre respectively, have been on the defensive because both governments have not carried out any project to resolve the water scarcity problem.

The Jamaat-e-Islami, whose candidate ranked fifth in the 2018 elections by securing 10,000 plus votes, is not contesting the by-poll. Instead, it organised a rally on Sunday to try to pressurise the federal and provincial governments into resolving the civic issues and providing basic amenities, including potable water, to the residents of Baldia Town. The rally was part of the JI’s ongoing Haq Do Karachi Ko (Give rights to Karachi) campaign. “All the political parties concerned had rushed to the constituency as soon as the election schedule was announced, but their focus of attention was temporary,” said JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman. He also demanded that the government resolve Baldia Town’s prolonged water shortage issue.