This week has been quite an eventful one for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Not only has it been able to bag a party candidate from Ibrahim Haidery – former parliamentarian Haji Shafi Mohammad Jamot, but it also inaugurated two new offices in Keamari.
“In the next elections we will grab at least five MPA seats and two MNA seats,” claimed Asad Usman, PML-N’s secretary-general in Karachi. He was talking to The Express Tribune about the increasing party activity in the metropolis.
“We are working seriously on our politics here,” said Usman. “The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won sympathy votes in the last elections. But we know that they have lost their game and it will be our party that gets the votes this time.”
Meetings are held every day in PML-N offices from Quaidabad to Gulshan-e-Hadeed. New members are being recruited and preparations are being made for Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Karachi in September.
For quite some time now, the PML-N has been eyeing the areas on the city’s peripheries, but has not been able to clinch the seats. This time around, they are not leaving any stone unturned and seem pretty confident of their success.
According to party leaders, PML-N has been looking for a chance to gain control of Ibrahim Haidery and its adjoining coastal villages, Keamari, Malir, Mehmoodabad, Shah Faisal Colony, Gulshan-e-Hadeed and some areas of Sohrab Goth, which are dominated by the Awami National Party (ANP).
The PML-N is also regrouping in constituencies which won them seats in the 1997 general elections. The current general secretary of PML-N’s Sindh chapter, Saleem Zia, won from PS-113 (previously PS-89) in 1997. The seat is now held by Askari Taqvi of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The constituency consists of Defence and Clifton cantonment areas.
Now that Irfanullah Khan Marwat, who used to head the Punjabi-Pukhtun Ittehad, has also joined, the PML-N considers Karachi Administrators Cooperative Housing Society, Mehmoodabad, Liaquat Ashraf Colony, Akhtar Colony and Manzoor Colony – areas falling in PS-114, already won.
Marwat has been a strong candidate from this constituency. He had become a provincial minister after being elected from this seat. But in 2008, MQM’s Abdul Rauf Siddiqi beat him only by a slender margin of 100 votes.
Meanwhile, senior leader of the PML-N, Sardar Abdul Rahim, also contested elections from this constituency and won in the 1997 elections. But no one knows if the PML-N will nominate Marwat or Rahim for the upcoming elections.
Another constituency which the PML-N is very confident about the PS-129 – which include Ibrahim Hydery and Bin Qasim Town by the inclusion of Haji Shafi Mohammad Jamot last week. The seat is currently held by PPP’s Muzafar Ali Shujra but Jamot believes he has a strong chance of winning since his son became a parliamentarian from this constituency in 2004.
Another area of interest is Saeedabad in Baldia, from where the late Mian Eijaz Shafi was elected as an MNA in the 1997 elections.
Asif, the president of PML-N youth wing’s Karachi chapter, said, “In the coming days, we will organise rallies in all of Karachi’s zones. We are determined to increase our vote bank but we will not display false shows of strengths,” said Asif, who is also the Karachi president of the party’s youth wing. Asif’s brother, Humayun Muhammad Khan won from the PS-89, Keamari, in 1997 elections and became a provincial minister. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif called upon Khan to invite youngsters to the party.
Asif, who contested the elections from this seat last year but lost to PPP’s Akhtar Jadoon, vows to come back with vengeance.
However, the enthusiasm of invitation extended to Uziar Baloch to join the party has lost its froth because of the cases piled up against him, party leaders told The Express Tribune. “For now we [the PML-N] have decided to do away with the offer,” they said. “But we will approach him when he has been acquitted by the court.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Saleem Zia as the “president” instead of “general secretary” of PML-N’s Sindh chapter. The error has been rectified.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.