Arbaz Ahmed Janjhi
By election on a Karachi NA seat have become point of attention for people as well as politicians. Despite spike in coronavirus case by-polls on the NA-249 seat in Karachi will be held on April 29.
Sindh government asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to postpone the polls, keeping in view the corona situation. However, PML-N and Pak Sarzameen Party opposed the postponement.
PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz was scheduled to led a rally and address a public meeting for her party’s candidate on April 24, but at the nick of time, she cancelled the programme due to spike in virus cases.
This seat was declared vacant when PTI’s Faisal Vawda resigned after voting in the Senate elections on March 3. He won the seat during the 2018 general election.
NA -249 constituency has some interesting fact. It has a population of 782,776 of which only 339,591, which means over 43% are registered to vote. There are 216,056 male voters in the area, while the number of female voters is 137,935.
In 1997 Imran Khan (now PM) chose this constituency to contest elections for the first time.
Since 2008 the constituency has elected a different political party in every general poll.
In 2008, PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel won with over 56,000 votes.
In 2013, MQM’s Muhammad Salman Baloch elected with 39,000 votes.
In 2018, Muhammad Faisal Vawda of PTI bagged the seat with over 35,000 votes.
Peculiarities of constituency
NA-249 constituency of Karachi borders Balochistan and is exclusively composed of the entire Baldia Town, divided ethnically between Pashtun, Hazarewal (Hindko) Punjabis, Kashmiri and Urdu-speaking populated neighborhoods of Baloch and Sindhi. Some well-known areas in the constituency include Delhi Colony, Mujahid Colony, Baldia, and Saeedabad.
In the past, MQM has been winning this seat but due to subsequent delimitation and change in political landscape. It has been weakened by not much know candidate Muhammad Musleen.
Mufitah Ismail (PML-N), Qadir Khan Mandokhel (PPP), Amjad Afridi (PTI), Mustafa Kamal (Pak Sarzameen Party) are considered major candidates in by-election. The PPP’s candidate Abdul Qadir Mandokhel joined the PPP in recent years, has also been a lawyer for Dr Asim. PML-N candidate is an industrialist Mufitah Ismail, who has also been a federal finance adviser.
Former mayor Mustafa Kamal, who parted ways with the MQM, is himself a candidate from this constituency. In the last elections, his party could not win a seat from any constituency.
ANP and JUI-F withdrew their candidates, to support PML-N’s Ismail.
JUI-F candidate was Maulana Umar Sadiq, former MPA from Baldia Town.
In March, PML-N’s senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met PPP chiarman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Karachi sought support for PML-N candidate Mufitah Ismail in the NA-249 by-polls. But PML-N proposal was not honounred.
PTI sought MQM-P support
A delegation of the PTI led by MPA Khurram Sher Zaman visited the temporary headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan in Bahadurabad and sought the latter’s support for their candidate, Amjad Afridi, in the upcoming NA-249 by-election.
2018 General elections
The last NA-249 election had been a close contest, with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Faisal Vawda securing 35,344 votes to defeat the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s central leader and former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, who had polled 34,626 votes.
But the TLP (now banned) candidate Abid Hussain secured 23981 votes and ranked third in the constituency during the last general elections. This religious political party also won one of the two PA seats falling under the National Assembly constituency.
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.