Sindh requests ECP to postpone Karachi by-poll

KARACHI: The Sindh government has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to postpone the NA-249 by-election until the third wave of the coronavirus infections subsides.

The by-election in the constituency is scheduled for April 29.

In a letter to the ECP, the Sindh government said that most of the cities in Pakistan were reporting a high positivity ratio and fatalities due to the virus.

The Sindh government cited in its letter that the number of virus cases was rising in Hyderabad and Karachi.

“The daily situation reports of last week show remarkable increase in positivity percentage rising from 3% to 7.8%, which is quite alarming,” it read.

“The electoral campaign, gatherings, corner meetings and processions will definitely aggravate the situation.”

The letter further stated that in case of spike in cases, the health department will not be able to cope up with the exponential increase in transmission and hospital load.

In order to avoid nay mishap or worse situation the by-election may be postponed till the third wave of corona subsides, the letter concluded.

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz is scheduled to arrive on April 24 to run the party’s candidate by-election campaign in Karachi’s NA-249, a party spokesperson said Saturday.

The PML-N vice-president will address public gatherings in the constituency and business community in Karachi.

The National Assembly seat fell vacant after PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned following his election as a senator last month.

Miftah Ismail is contesting the by-election on the PML-N ticket from the constituency.

He is the chairman of Ismail Industries Limited, which manufactures a wide range of confectionery items.

July 2018 general election there was close contest on NA-249, with Muhammad Faisal Vawda secured 35,344 votes to defeat Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N’s central president and former chief minister Punjab polling 34,626 votes.

ANP and JUI-F have withdrawn their candidate for the NA-249, to support PML-N’s Ismail.

JUI-F fielded Maulana Umar Sadiq, former MPA from Baldia Town, for the by-polls. Its Sindh leadership was opposed to withdrawal in favour of the PML-N candidate. The party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman intervened.

PPP is not willing to withdraw its candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhel in favour of the PML-N. On March 20, PML-N’s senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met PPP chiarman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Karachi to seek support for the NA-249 by-polls. But failed to convince PPP.

Last week, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met the party’s District West officer bearers, including MNA Abdul Qadir Patel and candidate Mandokhel and discussed the upcoming by-polls in the constituency.

Later PPP launched campaign for its candidate.

PML-F withdrew its candidate Sardar Abdul Rahim, saying that one seat will not matter in the present set up. PML-F and GDA chief Pir Pagara asked the party candidate and Karachi workers to prepare for local bodies elections.

In the 2018 general elections Abid Hussain of TLP ( now banned) stood third as he secured 23981 votes.

Remaining polled votes were as under: Aslam Shah of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan 13534 votes, Qadir Khan Mandokhail of PPP 7236 votes, Syed Atta Ullah Shah of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan 10307

NA-249 constituency of Karachi borders Balochistan and is exclusively composed of the entire Baldia Town, divided ethnically between Pashtun, Hazarewal (Hindko) Punjabis and Urdu-speaking populated neighborhoods with a few Baloch and Sindhi villages. It has a fraction of religious vote bank.