Today’s by-election for PS-114 will be litmus test for MQM, PPP

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Salahuddin Haider

Today’s by-elections for the provincial seat of PS-114, comprising Mehmoodabad and adjoining areas, will be a test case both for MQM Pakistan and Peoples Party, and since a keen contest is awaited, prediction about results will be hazardous guess. The area was all agog with activity for last two weeks, but though it will be bad omen, ethnic faction may well be a potent factor in the fray for obvious reasons. Chances for polls disturbances appear slim, almost non-existent because of two major factors.
First, MQM which has dominated the political scene since its emergence in 1987, has for the first time, faces a split in its ranks. And secondly, Para-military force of Rangers, with command in army’s hands, has taken upon itself the responsibility to maintain peace and security.
The visit, by DG Rangers, Maj- General Mohammad Saeed, to different areas, where some 238 polling stations will be operative on n Sunday, injects sense of guarantee for peaceful polling. Yet another factor which will be worth watching relates to ethnicity. Although the Mohajir card, which in simpler words point to demands from city’s 45 percent Urdu speaking population in urban quota in government jobs, representation in cabinet, and in civil and police service. It will not be totally out of place to mention that certain amount of insecurity and sense of deprivation is evident among Mohajirs, but the MQM which had been commanding their votes, has refrained from airing these demands forcefully. It has been cautious in its conduct. Yet, their leaders Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, and Khalid Maqbool Sidiiqi, could not resist referring to such sentimentsin muted and milder form.
Conscious of such a reality, PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto opted for an Urdu speaking candidate in senator Saeed Ghani for a contest, which looks crucial for PPP’s strength in Karachi in general elections. Their victory here, may well be a pointer for the future. But if the atmosphere appears vitiated (though it is hard to say that it really is) People party cannot be held solely responsible for. True, it had been pursuing wrong policies, but history bears testimony to the fact that discrimination has never been the watchword for a party, founded by a visionary like Z A Bhutto, who had given tickets for the Sibndh Assemble seats of predominant Mohajir constituency like Burns Road, and got elected two of its stalwarts like Sayed Saeed Hasan and Abdul Waheed Arshi, and even now has two Urdu speaking senators in the parliament’s upper house in Taj Haider, and Saeed Ghani. Even a firebrand leader Mairaj Mohammad Khan, who like late J A Raheem, and Mir Rasool Bux Talpur, were among the founders of the party. All of them were late disgraced and sidelined by the party leadership, and so were late Syed Saeed Hasan, and Waheed Arshi. Historians agree that this was Bhutto’s mistake.
However, the constituency has mixed population. Former Sindh Minister, Irfanullah Marwat, who is also son in law of former president,Ghulam Ishaq Khan, does command considerable following in the constituency. He had contested from here in 2013, and lost to Waseem Akhtar, who is now Mayor of Karachi, but dismissal of election petition of Irfanullah Marwat, actually had vacated this seat.
Marwat has thrown his weight behind PPP, and keeping the past record, Saeed Ghani was elected councilor and was opposition leader in Karachi Metropolitan Corporation against the then deputy Mayor, Nasreen Jalil, who is now his colleague in the Senate. The other two contestants from Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, and jamat-i-Islami cannot be dismissed lightly either, but the principal contest is seen between MQM Pakistan’s Kamran Tessori, and PPP’s Saeed Ghani. The later accuses governor Zubair of running PML (N)’s election cell from the Governor’s House, but same could be said about PPP, which never avoids a chance to misuse government money for political purposes.
Saeed Ghani has done some remarkable job in the area, got new roads built, improved water supply position. But to raise objections against it, will be a mere futile exercise, for every candidate, even of MQM, and Muslim League, reorts to such unethical practices when their party is in power. This has become a standard practice now.
The MQM (haqeeqi) leader, Afaq Ahmad, has come out in support to MQM Pakistan. He, alongwith Amir Khan, remained in jail for long, long years, and although Amir Khan, rejoined his former party, Afaq remained a deadly opponent to MQM founder Altaf Hussain. He often said in the past that he had nothing against MQM, firmly believed in Mohajir cause, but could never tolerate Altaf Hussain.

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