KARACHI: When you vote for someone to represent you in parliament, you want them to take up your issues and fix your problems through appropriate legislation. But what happens when the candidate is not even from your constituency; has hardly ever visited the area and does not know the problems you face every day.
In Karachi, the head honchos of six mainstream political parties are contesting the elections for different seats in the National Assembly. None of these leaders belongs or will even vote in the constituency they are vying for.
Shehbaz Sharif, the chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is vying for the NA-249 seat in Karachi. His vote is registered in Lahore. Similarly, Imran Khan, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is contesting for NA-243 in Karachi, while he is registered to vote in Islamabad. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who is contesting from NA-246, Karachi, will cast his vote in Larkana.
Besides, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Pak Sarzameen Party’s Mustafa Kamal and Sunni Tehreek’s Sarwat Ejaz Qadri are contesting on seats other than their home constituencies.
The Awami National Party’s Sindh chief, Shahi Syed, will cast his vote in a different province altogether. Syed, who is contesting the elections for NA-238 and NA-250 in Karachi, is registered to vote at Government Girls High School, Babuzai, in Mardan district.
Renowned singer Jawad Ahmed has submitted his nomination papers from NA-246, while his vote is registered in NA-135 and PP-161. Meanwhile, PSP candidate for NA-247, Fauzia Kasuri, will cast her vote at Government Primary School, Siyandakuth in Abbotabad district, which is a polling station for NA-16 and PK-38.
Other Karachi-based politicians have also tried to spread out from their own areas, appealing residents of other constituencies to elect them to the legislature. The Mohajir Qaumi Movement’s chief, Afaq Ahmed, is registered to vote in NA-240, while he has filed nomination papers for NA-254. Besides, MQM-P’s Farooq Sattar and Sohail Mansoor Khwaja, PPP’s Shehla Raza, MMA’s Muhammad Hussain Mehanti and PTI’s Amir Liaquat Hussain and Dr Arif Alvi are seeking votes in other constituencies.
Legally, any citizen of Pakitan can contest the elections from any constituency. Independent observers believe, however, that such practices should be discouraged as the candidate has no loyalties toward the constituency and generally lacks the predisposition to solve its problems. Today’s results will decide how many of these ‘outsiders’ will be elected by the residents of these respective constituencies.