It is still difficult to predict the outcome of July 25th general elections in Karachi. It is most likely that different political parties including PPP, PSP, MQM-P, PML-N and MMA will get some seats among themselves. It is likely that Karachi is going to produce a split mandate after three decades. All parties wants to take advantage of the opening and vacuum that was developed after the removal of Altaf Hussain from party leader and subsequent divisions and splits in MQM.
It will be first election in Karachi in last three decades in which there will not be single no go area for any political party. MQM strong holds remained no go areas for other political parties as they were not allowed to campaign in Urdu speaking Mohajir areas. Other parties were used to complain that MQM rig the elections as its workers forcibly took over the polling stations and stuffed ballot boxes with fake votes. But no such thing will happen in July 25th general elections. Political parties will get equal and fair chance of campaigning in all areas of Karachi.
It will be first time in three decades that general elections in Karachi will not produce a clear winner. No political party seems in the position to clean sweep the 21 national and 43 provincial assembly seats. It will be most difficult general elections to predict as for as Karachi is concerned. The MQM dominated the politics in Karachi for more than three decades. MQM was use to won most of the seats in Karachi and Hyderabad. Its dominance made it easier for the election experts and analysts to predict the possible winner on most seats in Karachi. But the situation changed significantly since August 2016.
MQM leader Altaf Hussain made highly objectionable and anti-Pakistan speech on August 22, 2016. This speech laid the basis for the splits in MQM. The most dominating force in Karachi now is in disarray. If the both factions of MQM-P stand divided then it will open the opportunities for other parties to make inroads into Mohajir vote bank. Mohajir vote bank remained loyal with MQM for more than three decades.
Many parties are claiming to get maximum seats in the elections, which includes Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).
The MQM has swept all the elections in Karachi since 1988. But this time, the vote bank of MQM is in a quandary and the situation is not favourable for the its different factions. MQM- London has already announced to boycott the elections. Altaf Hussain led faction will try to keep the turn out low to show its strength in the Urdu speaking population. The MQM stands divided into three groups. The MQM – London will not contest the elections. While the other two groups, the MQM -Pakistan PIB Colony and MQM – Pakistan Bahadarabad is divided over several issues. Both the groups are passing through a difficult period. If both groups remained divided and contested elections against each other than other parties will have good chance to clinch the Mohajir dominated seats after decades.
The PPP is opening its offices in MQM’s areas at a fast pace and its leadership is convinced that it will win more seats as compared to the past. PPP seems to be the main beneficiary of the split in MQM. The PPP is poised to win at least 5 national assembly seats from Karachi. PPP was used to win two seats from Karachi, one from Malir and other from Lyari. PPP might emerge as the main winner in July 25th general elections.
There are 11 to 12 constituencies in Karachi where 90% of the population is Urdu speaking and the MQM, for the past 30 years, has been securing a victory without sharing. However, MQM will now be participating in the elections as a divided entity and it remains to be seen whether the party will be able to secure those areas such as Korangi, Landhi, Malir, Shah Faisal Colony, Liaqautabad, North Karachi, Nazimabad, Baldia Town, Orangi Town, Azizabad, New Karachi and other.
On the other hand, MQM always face tough competition in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Defence Housing Authority, Clifton, PIB Colony, Bahadarabad, Mehmoodabad, SITE, Metroville and Keamari. MQM used all means possible to continue its domination in these areas.
There are a total of 21 seats for the National Assembly in Karachi, of which five seats are expected to be won by the PPP. Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict which parties will win the rest of seats. It seems that PTI and MMA can win three seats each. The PSP and MQM-P Bahadarabad group still can secure few seats from Urdu speaking dominating areas. It is clear that Karachi will produce a split mandate in the 2018 general elections. No single party will be able to dominate the electoral scène like MQM did for more than 30 years.
The city has witnessed major changes. The once mighty MQM has split into factions. The wave of PTI, which emerged in the 2013 general election as a force to be reckoned, seems to have died down. The PPP has made it a point to mark its presence in the city. And there’s also the party of former mayor Mustafa Kamal, the PSP.
In the last elections in 2013, 17 out of 20 seats had been won by the unified Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). While PML-N, PPP and PTI got one seat each. The religious parties failed to get any seat. But this time around, the alliance of religious parties MMA is hoping to make some inroads into hotly contested mix constituencies where no party dominate. MMA is targeting Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Defence, and Clifton, Keamari and Baldia Town constituencies.
Karachi city faces multiple issues, including poor law and order situation, a damaged infrastructure, broken down and inadequate transport system, unemployment, polluted drinking water and electricity problems. A party that vows to resolve all these issues can gain the support of Karachites.
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17 July, 2019