If there is one constituency in the city where electoral campaigning is at its peak – albeit through illegal wall chalking – it has to be NA-251.
The streets in Manzoor Colony are dotted with bright-coloured flags and walls are painted with slogans, such as ‘Marwat humari zaroorat hai’ [We need Marwat]. At night, young men gather outside their party offices with loud music blaring political songs. Fairy lights glimmer above the narrow lanes, offering residents a brief respite from the violence that is engulfing the rest of the city.
Some political party workers have already started making voter ballot cards to inform their residents where their polling stations are. Parties are also holding corner meetings on the rooftops.
Apart from Manzoor Colony, NA-251 also includes Mehmoodabad, Defence View, old neighbourhoods of KAECHS and PECHS, along with Lines Area, Akhtar Colony, Azam Basti and Chanesar Goth. The residents belong to various ethnicities, while Azam Basti and Akhtar Colony have a majority of Christians.
Political analysts on the roadside
In Mehmoodabad No. 1, a few men stood outside general store, discussing their favourite candidates, agreeing that no one has so far been able to do any real work in the neighbourhood.
“Our biggest problem is water shortage,” said resident Munir Ahmed Shaikh. Water flows through the pipes only on alternate days, it is polluted and hardly fit for consumption. “Since it comes only at night, we spend half our nights filling up buckets with dirty water.” The roads are broken and the slums are missing basic sewage and potable water.
Despite the dismal living conditions, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is sure to bag the seat – the same way it has been since the past two elections. “I will win and I will receive 120,000 votes,” said Ali Raza Abidi, the owner of Biryani of the Seas who is contesting on the MQM ticket. Abidi is replacing MQM’s Waseem Akhter who won the seat in 2008.
The diversity of residents has not caused any major clashes in NA-251 but the days leading up to the elections have seen a divide among political parties. For instance, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) has now withdrawn support for its own National Assembly candidate, Nehal Hashmi, and is rooting for the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
Hashmi, who is the PML-N president in Karachi, told The Express Tribune that because of intra politics, and “foolish” decisions by the party, he is being sidelined. He is, nevertheless, determined to fight.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is fielding Raja Azhar from NA-251 but he hardly makes his presence felt. There are only a handful of PTI flags and banners around the constituency. Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Zulifqar Ali Qaim Khani, JI’s Zahid Saeed and Pakistan Sunni Tehreek’s Muhammad Jameel are also contesting.
NA-251 comprises two provincial seats – PS-114 and PS-115.
The first provincial constituency comprises KAECHS, Defence View, Azam Basti, Mehmoodabad No. 1 to 6, Chanesar Goth, and Manzoor, Akhter and Rehman colonies. This seat will be the hardest in the constituency as MQM candidate Abdul Rauf Siddiqui and PML-N candidate Irfanullah Khan Marwat are fighting neck-to-neck.
Siddiqui won the 2008 elections by defeating the 2002 winner, Marwat, by a hundred votes. The provincial seat will also be interesting as the city’s first transgender candidate, Bindiya Rana, will also be contesting. From PS-115, SITE association chairperson Arshad Abdullah Vohra is contesting on the MQM ticket. The party’s Raza Haroon won the same seat in the last elections. This constituency comprises PECHS Blocks 2 and 6, Jut Lines, Lines Area, Jacob Lines, Jinnah Complex, Khudadad Colony and some parts of Chanesar Goth.
To Find Out Where Your Polling Station Is
1. Send your CNIC number without dashes and spaces) via SMS to 8300 and wait for a message from the ECP
2. Note down the ‘Block Code’ from the SMS
3.Download ‘Draft Polling Scheme’ for your province from this link: http://ecp.gov.pk/PollingScheme.aspx
4.The downloaded Excel file will contain your city data. Open it and find the Block Code, which will be your polling station
5. The SMS will also contain your Serial Number in the voter list use this to find your name at the polling station
Source: @norbalm, http://www.norbalm.com
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2013.