KARACHI: After the latest delimitations, District Malir is host to Karachi’s first three constituencies, as per the sequence of National Assembly seats.
With a population of 1,996,477, the district is the fifth-largest in terms of inhabitants. With respect to voters, however, Malir is the smallest among the six districts of Karachi, with only 751,526 people registered on the electoral roll.
District Malir is also where the most administrative changes have been witnessed after the latest delimitations. The district now has three National Assembly seats and five provincial assembly seats, registering an increase of one each from previous elections. On July 25, votes will be cast in 536 polling stations and 1,991 polling booths across the district. Independent observers believe that the new demarcations and the locality adjustments have been carried out in a way to hit at past power wielders from the area.
The relatively less-developed district features mostly goths and villages, inhabited by Baloch and Sindhi tribes that have been living in the area for the past several decades at least. These include Jamot, Jutt, Jhokio, Gabol and Sheikh, among others.
In terms of employment opportunities, Malir is home to scores of large industrial units. Port Qasim, Bin Qasim Power Plant, the new Sabzi Mandi, Malir Cantonment and the Jinnah International Airport also fall within its boundaries. Yet, the living standards of its inhabitants are some of the lowest in the city. A huge blow for the district’s residents came when the only government-run steel mill, set up during the tenure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was shut down some time ago.
Several major development projects in the education and health sectors have been proposed for the district, but have yet to see the light of day. The Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Engineering College has been in the pipeline since 2013. The Benazir Bhutto Medical Complex, approved at a cost Rs1 billion in 2012, is still non-functional. The 50-bed Benazir Bhutto Maternity Home in Gulshan-e-Hadeed has also yet to be materialised. This is also the only district in the city to house two 660-megawatt power projects initiated under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
Notorious killing field
Earlier this year, the district achieved notoriety on account of SSP Rao Anwar’s alleged encounters. The infamous Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case, which sparked protests across the country, also emerged from this district. One interesting aspect of this district is the differences in its demarcations with respect to administrative, electoral, revenue and police. According to the police demarcations, some areas of District East also fall under the jurisdiction of SSP Malir.
In the 2002 general elections, the two NA constituencies in the district were bagged by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan Peoples Party, respectively. The MQM’s Muhammad Shamim Siddiqui had emerged victorious from NA-257 and the PPP’s Sher Muhammad Baloch had won from NA-258. The four provincial assembly seats were secured by the PPP’s Abdullah Murad from PS-127, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Maulana Ahsanullah Ashraf Hazarvi from PS-128, independent candidate Mehmood Alam Jamot from PS-129 and PPP’s Muhammad Sajid Jhokio from PS-130.
In the 2008 general elections, MQM’s Sajid Ahmed won NA-257 and PPP’s Sher Muhammad Baloch emerged victorious from NA-258.Meanwhile, MQM’s Nisar Ahmed Panhwar managed to bag PS-127, ANP’s Amanullah Khan Mehsud from PS-128 and the PPP’s Haji Muzaffar Ali Shajra and Muhammad Sajid Jokhio secured victory from PS-129 and PS-130, respectively.
In the last general elections in 2013, the PPP could manage to secure a single NA seat from the district, largely because Abdul Hakim Baloch was displeased with the PPP and won the NA-258 constituency from the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz’s platform. He later got upset with PML-N and resigned from the seat, before going on to win it again from the PPP’s ticket. The MQM’s Sajid Ahmed retained his victory from NA-257. Similarly, MQM’s Ashfaq Mangi emerged victorious from PS-127, but the seat later went to the PPP’s Ghulam Mirza Baloch after the former resigned. MQM’s Waqar Hussain Shah won from PS-128, PML-N’s Shafi Muhammad Jamot from PS-129 and PPP’s Sajid Jokhio secured victory from PS-130.