KARACHI: Given that water shortage remains a major issue in the areas falling under PS-111 constituency, it is no surprise that various candidates in the run for Sunday’s election have made water scarcity the core issue of their campaign.
The constituency includes the affluent areas of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Clifton as well as the adjoining slum areas. The residents of these localities suffer as neither the Clifton Cantonment Board (CBC) nor the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) is able to meet the water demands of the residents, thereby forcing residents to purchase water through tankers.
While political parties and their candidates have been running lukewarm campaigns in their strongholds, some have been assuring people to restore their water troubles.
Elections are taking place in PS-111 for the second time in three months since the seat fell vacant when the winning candidate, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Imran Ismail, was appointed as the Sindh governor.
While PTI’s candidate for the by-polls, Shahzad Qureshi, is confident that he will win since his party has won this seat in the general elections of both 2018 and 2013, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) candidate, Fayyaz Pirzada, has been trying to mobilise voters through corner meetings in katchi abadis which are a stronghold of PPP. Independent candidate, Jibran Nasir, who secured 6,000 votes in the general elections held in July, is once again on ground to contest the by-polls against the candidates of PTI and PPP. Almost all the candidates, in their own unique way, are assuring constituents that they will resolve the water crisis.
Qureshi, who is also the information secretary of PTI Karachi, claims that water is the biggest issue faced by the residents of this constituency and claims that his party leader and prime minister will resolve the issue.
Pirzada recalled that the election campaign of the PPP candidate in the July general elections revolved around the water issue. “Although he lost the elections but still Barrister Murtaza Wahab vowed to resolve the water issue,” said Pirzada who is a resident of Chandio Village near Punjab Colony.
He added that the Sindh government’s Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani has already been directed by the Sindh chief minister to carry out feasibility of the desalination plant for provision of potable water to the residents of DHA and Clifton areas.
Nasir is the only candidate in the by-polls of PS-111, who also contested the general elections held in July and he has a completely different take on the subject. “I’m trying to highlight the genuine problems of my residents with the limited resources I have to reach out to the public,” he told The Express Tribune.
PTI and PPP are powers in the Centre and in Sindh respectively, and are in favour of the desalination plant but according to Nasir, the reason for Karachi’s water scarcity lies in the water theft by tanker mafia which is active in Karachi and deprives people of their basic rights.
“We have prepared a petition against the Sindh CM mentioning and highlighting the actual issue of water scarcity and have received 18,000 signatures by residents in last eight days. Water theft can only be stopped by a strong opposition candidate,” said Nasir.
Other candidates in the by-polls of PS-111 include representatives from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Jamat-e-Islami and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz have not fielded their candidates.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2018.