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Saturday July 20, 2024

MQM-P retains Karachi’s NA-240 with margin of mere 65 votes

The MQM-P managed to retain its NA-240 seat of Karachi’s District Korangi in the byelection on Thursday marred by violence

By Faraz Khan & Zia Ur Rehman
June 17, 2022
Abu Bakr. Photo: Twitter
Abu Bakr. Photo: Twitter

KARACHI: With a narrow margin of just 65 votes over the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) managed to retain its NA-240 seat of Karachi’s District Korangi in the byelection on Thursday marred by violence. A man was killed and over 10 others were injured due to firing and brawls among the political workers.

In the wee hours of Friday, regional election commissioner Nadeem Haider announced the unconfirmed results, according to which MQM-P’s Muhammad Abu Bakar had won the byelection after polling 10,683 votes. The TLP candidate, Shahzada Shahbaz, became the runner-up after securing 10,618 votes.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi’s Rafiuddin, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Nasir Lodhi and Pak Sarzameen Party’s (PSP) Shabbir Kaimkhani were able to poll 8,383, 5,248 and 4,797 votes respectively, as per the unconfirmed results.

The voter turnout remained low at 8.38 per cent and there was little enthusiasm among the residents of the constituency that primarily comprises Landhi. The constituency had fallen vacant after the death of MQM-P MNA and senior leader Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan on April 19.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which has the maximum MNAs from Karachi, had boycotted the bypoll. In the last general elections, the PTI had received 29,939 votes from the constituency and ranked third. Another major political stakeholder of the city Jamaat-e-Islami also opted not to contest the byelection.

The NA-240 constituency largely comprises lower-income Mohajir neighbourhoods and pockets of Bengali and Burmese localities.

The byelection on Thursday contingency was marred by violence as due to clashes between workers of political parties, an elderly man was killed and several others injured. PSP leader Iftikhar Alam was also among the injured persons while PSP Chairman Mustafa Kamal narrowly escaped a bullet.

The security plan prepared by the Karachi Police to ensure a peaceful election failed as violent incidents occurred despite the presence of more than 1,500 police force. Police also detained several persons and tension prevailed in the area till late night.

The morning and noon hours of polling passed peacefully; however, after 3pm, political workers started to engage in clashes with each other. In some clashes, workers of rival political parties attacked each other with sticks and in other clashes, some resorted to firing as well.

Workers of a political party opened fire on the central camp of a rival party, prompting the other side to return the fire. The firing was intense and caused panic and fear in the area with people running to find a safe place. No law enforcer was observed in the area during the incident.

The intense firing also resulted in suspension of routine and commercial activities in the area. Later, leaders of both the parties – PSP’s Anis Qaimkhani and TLP’s Saad Rizvi — blamed each other for resorting to firing. PSP chief Mustafa Kamal also reportedly escaped unhurt in a firing incident near Landhi No 6.

The casualties were taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. According to the hospital’s administration, one man was brought dead while around 10 others were brought injured to the hospital. The deceased person was later identified as 65-year-old Saifuddin, son of Kaleemuddin, resident of Landhi. It was reported that he was a passer-by who was hit by a bullet.

Of the injured persons, PSP leader Iftikhar Alam, TLP chief’s 30-year-old security guard Waleed and a citizen, Faizan, 28, suffered bullet injuries while the rest were injured after being attacked with sticks. An ambulance of a welfare organisation also reportedly came under attack by workers of a political party in a bid to stop it from transporting injured workers of a rival political party to hospital.

The ambulance driver said that his vehicle was intercepted by unidentified motorcyclists who opened fire on it when he informed them that he was going to transport some injured persons to a hospital. No case had been registered till late hours of Thursday.

On social media, the PSP accused the MQM-P of rigging the election in collusion with officials. The PSP also accused the TLP of firing at its workers. The constituency comprised 529,855 voters, including 294,385 male and 235,470 female voters. The Election Commission of Pakistan had declared 203 polling stations in the constituency ‘very sensitive’. The remaining 106 of the total 309 polling stations had been declared ‘sensitive’.

MQM-P workers held celebrations as their victory was announced in the early hours of Friday. Talking to the media, MQM-P leaders Wasim Akhtar and Khawaja Izharul Hassan said their several workers were injured during the violence on the polling day. Meanwhile, the TLP rejected the result and announced that it would approach relevant forums against rigging in favour of the MQM-P.