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Sunday July 14, 2024

MQM-P most likely to retain NA-240 in June 16 by-election

MQM-P has won the National Asssembly seat in three consecustive general elections

By Zia Ur Rehman
May 16, 2022
A representative image. -Agencies
A representative image. -Agencies 

If past performance and the ethnic composition of a constituency are valid yardsticks to go by, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) is likely to win the NA-240 by-elections that are scheduled for next month. However, it is hard to predict anything considering the uncertainty of Karachi’s current politics.

The National Assembly seat comprising areas of Landhi in District Korangi had fallen vacant after the death of the MQM-P’s lawmaker and senior leader Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan on April 19.

After Khan’s death, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that by-polls for the NA-240 (Korangi Karachi II) seat will be conducted on June 16. The last day of submitting nomination papers was May 10, while the scrutiny process was completed on May 14.

The ECP will receive appeals against the acceptance and rejection of nomination papers until May 17, while a tribunal will issue verdicts on the appeals until May 21. The ECP will issue a reviewed list of the candidates on May 23, while the withdrawal of nomination papers will be accepted until May 24. The final list of candidates will be issued the same day.

Past elections

The MQM-P’s Khan had won the NA-240 seat in the 2018 general elections by securing 61,165 votes, defeating the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) Muhammad Asif, who had bagged 30,535 votes, and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Farrukh Manzoor, who had received 29,939 votes.

The Jamaat-e-Islami’s Abdul Jamil Khan, who had contested the polls under the banner of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, had secured over 19,000 votes, while Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) chief Afaq Ahmed had bagged over 14,000 votes, and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Mohammad Feroze had received over 7,000 votes.

In the 2013 and 2008 general elections, the then MQM’s Asif Hasnain had won the constituency, which was NA-255 at that time, by a great margin.

In the 2002 general elections, the MQM-H’s Mahmood Ahmed Qureshi had won the constituency, but after his death due to a heart attack, the MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar had won the seat in the by-polls.

Population

NA-240 comprises various areas of Landhi that fall under District Korangi. The constituency was previously part of the former NA-255 and various areas of former NA-254.

After fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the provisional results of the 2017 population census, NA-240 was created by amalgamating both the former constituencies. NA-240 is mainly dominated by Urdu speakers, but people from other ethnicities also live there.

By-poll candidates

The ECP had announced on May 13 that 42 candidates had submitted their nomination papers for the NA-240 by-elections, but the candidates who would be contesting the by-polls would be fully known on May 24, after the withdrawal of nomination papers by covering and other candidates.

The MQM-P’s coordination committee member Muhammad Abu Bakar and former District Korangi chairman Syed Nayyar Raza are likely candidates from the party. The MQM-P’s Sadiq Iftikhar, Masood Mehmood, Syed Anwar and Shahid Niazi have also submitted their nomination papers.

The TLP’s Prince Shahbaz, Muhammad Kashif and Abdul Sattar, while the PTI’s District President Gohar Ali Khattak and leader Zaman Khattak have also submitted their nomination papers. The Pak Sarzameen Party has fielded their Vice Chairman Shabbir Kaimkhani for the by-elections, while the PPP has selected Naeem Shaikh as their candidate.

Security situation

The Landhi area had completely been under the influence of the MQM-H, which was formed by former MQM leaders Afaq Ahmed and Amir Khan, since an army operation was launched against the MQM in June 1992.

Organisationally, the MQM had no presence in these areas, and they had become no-go areas for them until 2003. MQM-H activists forcibly expelled MQM activists and supporters from their areas, and occupied their houses and businesses.

Those who were forced to leave relocated to Korangi, Liaquatabad, New Karachi, Orangi Town and Surjani Town. Many ordinary residents also left these areas because of the violent clashes between the two parties.

The MQM-H was unable to achieve electoral success in 11 years while contesting the polls from Landhi, except once when it had won a seat each in the NA and the provincial assembly.

The situation changed in 2003, during the regime of military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Analysts said that after supporting Musharraf’s regime, the MQM, which was part of the federal and provincial government, used state machinery to take control of the city’s areas that were dominated by the MQM-H.