KARACHI - Muttahida Qaumi Movement will face Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as its main contender in by-poll to NA-254 – the constituency Altaf Hussain-led group has never lost since 1988 – next Thursday [August 22].
The national assembly seat remained vacant as a week before the general elections the candidate for Awami National Party was assassinated in an armed attack.
MQM candidate Muhammad Ali Rashid is confident of winning since the party has an undisputed majority in NA-254 Karachi East-XVI. Boycotting the by-poll, Awami National Party will be backing Pakistan People’s Party election candidate.
Muhammad Naeem Sheikh will be vying from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which emerged as a popular group in the May 11 general elections. But Sheikh’s chance of victory remains grim provided that his group could not make a significant mark on many national and provincial seats for the port city of Karachi. It is unclear whether he could tilt MQM’s vote bank to his favour.
Analysts believe that support for PTI’s slogan of change has diminished because of the vacuum created in the general elections and largely because of it not having a strong organisational structure in Karachi.
Reports say as many as fourteen candidates, including independents, would contest the by-poll to NA-254 which has 3,78,713 registered voters: 2,28,142 male voters and 1,50,570 female.
In 2008, MQM’s Dr Mohammad Ayoub Sheikh won this seat bagging 1,32,648 votes. PPP Dr Shakeel Ahmed was the first runner-up with 2,361 votes. Earlier in 2002, the seat was swept by MQM’s Nawab Mirza with 42,888 votes defeating Zahid Siraj of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal who could only rope in 16,733 votes.
This time too MQM’s victory is evident with walls chalked with MQM slogans, and flags and banners installed atop houses. The constituency is comprised of nearly two dozen neighbourhoods in Korangi including Mehran Town, Bilal Colony, Korangi sector 33, Korangi sector 34, Double Road Area 9000, Gulzar Colony, Nasir Colony, Allahwala Town, Qayyumabad, Zia Colony, Korangi sector 32-A and C, Chakra Goth, Mustafa Taj Colony, Hashrat Mohani Colony, Korangi sector-51/L and 51/E, 100 Quarters, Korangi sectors of 50/A, 50/C, 48/E and 48/F, Silver Town, Korangi sector 48/B and Korangi Cantonment.
But a formal visit to this constituency gives a gloomy picture about development works undertaken therein over years. Roads are broken and dotted with garbage dump. Many areas badly hit by shortage of water, while in others there are no water lines at all, even for schools and hospitals.
The fourteen candidates include Muhammad Asghar Dars (Rickshaw), SM Farooq (Fish), Rajab Ali (Key), Sajjad Hussain (Stag), Shabbir Ahmed Qaim Khani (Crocodile), Muhammad Hussain Khan (Suitcase), Muhammad Suleman Ahmed Kjan (Basket), Muhammad Arif Khan (Giraffe), Muhammad Ali Rashid (Kite), Muhammad Naeem Sheikh (Bat), Mangal Khan Kharooti (Arrow), Mullana Abdul Sattar (Tiger) and Mian Muhammad Ilyas Rasheed (Candle).
ECP refuses to bar PM from
addressing the nation
Monitoring Desk adds: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has refused to bar Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif from addressing the nation. The Premier is likely to address the nation on Monday (today) for the first time after assuming office in June this year, reported a private TV channel.
A Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leader Sajida Mir filed a petition in Election Commission contending that timing of premier’s address is maliciously designed to influence the by-elections scheduled for August 22 across the country.
The Election Commission outrightly rejected the plea stating that Nawaz Sharif will be addressing the nation as head of state and not as PML-N chief.
Meanwhile, the ECP has also decided to deploy Army at polling stations in Karachi during the by-elections. The decision will be made public today.