The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has decided on Sunday not to contest by-polls on nine constituencies of Karachi on March 16. The constituencies were among the 33 National Assembly seats which fell vacant after Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had announced March 16 as the election date on all 33 NA seats—including the nine in Karachi. MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has confirmed the decision of the party’s coordination committee.
Sources privy to the development said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had contacted Siddiqui and requested him not to participate in the by-polls owing to the ongoing economic crisis in the country.
MQM-P had called a meeting of its coordination committee over the matter which lasted for two days.
The participants of the meeting, the sources added, unanimously decided that since the country was going through an economic crisis, contesting elections was not a wise decision under the circumstances.
The constituencies where by-elections are to be held include: NA-04 Swat, NA-17 Haripur, NA-18 Swabi, NA-25 and NA-26 Nowshera, NA-32 Kohat, NA-38 Dera Ismail Khan, NA-43 Khyber, NA-52, 53, and NA-54 Islamabad, NA-57, 59, 60, 62 and NA-63 Rawalpindi, NA-67 Jhelum, NA-97 Bhakkar, NA-126 and NA-130 Lahore, NA-155 and NA-156 Multan, NA-191 Dera Ghazi Khan, NA-241, 242. 243, 244, 247, 250, 252, 254, and NA-256 Karachi and NA-265 Quetta.
A total of 123 PTI MNAs had resigned en masse on April 11 last year—two days after their party chairman was ousted as the prime minister through a no-confidence motion.
After dragging feet over the process for eight months, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on January 17 and 35 MNAs on January 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid.
On January 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers after Ashraf accepted their resignations.