After biryani, Ali Raza Abidi tries his hand at politics

Published: April 22, 2013
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MQM awards candidate a ticket to contest NA-251 seat in Karachi  .

MQM awards candidate a ticket to contest NA-251 seat in Karachi .

KARACHI: 

After tantalising Karachi’ites’ taste buds with a plethora of flavours, The Grillfather, Ali Raza Abidi, has developed a taste for a spicier profession – a candidate contesting the elections from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s seat.

Originally, the 41-year-old owner of Biryani of the Seas (BOTS) had planned to introduce an ‘election menu’, featuring a seafood platter named after the MQM, sizzling prawn tempura to be served as the Pakistan Peoples Party’s arrow and simmering tsunami prawns representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

“I can’t introduce the menu now as I am too busy with the party and won’t be able to give much time to BOTS. But I am constantly aware of what is happening there,” said Abidi, who is contesting the NA-251 seat in Karachi.

The constituency was won by MQM’s Waseem Akhtar in the last elections and covers areas of Mehmoodabad. “I am overwhelmed. I respect the party’s decision of awarding me the ticket,” says Abidi, who is among the fresh candidates that the party has brought forward for the 2013 elections.

How it all started

Abidi’s affiliation with MQM goes back to the 1988, when he was a student of SM Commerce College. When the army operation against the party started, Abidi – who had seen several tortured bodies of his colleagues – distanced himself from politics.

Although he went to the United States for his undergraduate degree in science and business management from Boston University, the candidate says that he was in touch with what was going on back home. “It was disturbing at time and I felt helpless.”

After coming back in 1998, he chose to be an entrepreneur – he was part of distributing Walls ice cream, and later joined the seafood processing business run by the family. Abidi’s father, Syed Ikhlaq Hussain Abidi, was also actively involved with the MQM and was an MNA from NA-250.

Abidi jumped back into active politics in 2008, and formed the Professionals Research and Advisory Council (PRAC) for MQM. “The idea was to gather professionals such as me who had started with the All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation but became disconnected due to careers and family life.” Abidi was then asked to form and head the social media team. He is now the vertical head of the social media strategy, and is currently affiliated with the cyber communications department of the party. “MQM’s social media team is the most disciplined, unlike the PTI’s trolls who are negatively active,” he chuckles.

The political menu

Contesting against PPP’s Zulfiqar Qaimkhani, PTI’s Raja Azhar, and others, Abidi is confident that this seat belongs to him.

“The people of my constituency are my prized possession,” said Abidi, who once used to live in the Karachi Administration Employees Cooperative Housing Society within the constituency and has opened a branch of BOTS in the area as well.

If elected, Abidi’s focus will be to promote the local government system as he believes there can be no democracy without it.

The father of four, however, is well aware of the dangers which come with running for elections.

The start of his campaign coincided with the murder of Faisal, a joint in-charge of the Mehmoodabad sector. “Being a shia and a member of the MQM which is already threatened by the Taliban, I know that I face double the danger. I have two guards but I don’t carry a weapon myself.”

As threats hover, Abidi has decided to use social media for campaigning rather than rallies. “Even though social media doesn’t have a wide outreach, most opinion makers use them.”

The love of food or MQM?

Abidi’s loyalty for MQM surpasses his love for BOTS. “Even though I don’t have a feudal, tribal or industrial background, they have nominated. I did not even spend a single penny for nominations.”

He said that MQM leaders frequently visit roadside restaurants. “Haider bhai is a regular and loves barbequed shrimps and Faisal loves prawn makhni.”

Abidi’s passion for MQM is evident even in the landline number for BOTS which includes the digits 9090.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Sindhi_Sufi
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:44AM

    There is need to establish good environment between permanent residents of Sindh. Urdu Speaking new Sindhis and Sindhi speaking people should come together for betterment of province, otherwise differences between two will be exploited by third party. A united stand on rights of province, people’s welfare is needed. MQM is second biggest party, they must make bridges with nationalist groups and instead of pushing for Karachi specific agenda, they focus on whole Sindh.

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  • Peer Khan
    Apr 22, 2013 - 6:31AM

    Please quit talking old and new Sindhi.We all should talk about Pakistan & only Pakistani.Thanks

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  • Sohrab Karboy
    Apr 22, 2013 - 7:58AM

    @Sindhi_Sufi: What a positive message from you! Very heartwarming indeed, and befitting your screen name, Sindhi Sufi, you have kept the tradition of the Sufis, who for centuries have spread the love of humanity and have stood up for the hungry, the homeless, the dispossessed, and the oppressed. Yes, as they aptly say: “Rising waters lifts all Boats,” when human beings are committed to the betterment of society, without regard to ethnicity, creed, race, religion, sects, and linguistic groups, everyone benefits. This was the same message that the Sufi Saint of Karachi, Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, brought with him 1253 years ago when he came to Karachi in 760 A.D.

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  • Athar Anis
    Apr 22, 2013 - 11:14AM

    I know abidi bhai as a devoted and a sincere karachiate. May he win these elections. Talented and educated people are much needed by the country.

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  • Salman
    Apr 22, 2013 - 11:33AM

    I wish he win the elections, He is very good person. Thanks Rabia for writing this.

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  • Mohammad
    Apr 22, 2013 - 12:20PM

    Congratulations on your selection – Please work hard for the betterment of Pakistan, including Karachi.

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  • Apr 22, 2013 - 12:31PM

    Zabardast – Wish you Good Luck :)

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  • Effendi
    Apr 22, 2013 - 1:07PM

    Better make some good biryani for the the MNAs in the NA. All the best for the election! My vote for you!

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  • True Karachiwala
    Apr 22, 2013 - 2:31PM

    @Sindhi_Sufi: My dear brother ! you have said the words which are in the hearts of million of new and old sindhis.

    Due to differences which were artificially created for hate politics, third force is already taking advantage.

    Let MQM give opportunity to serve Sindh, I do believe progress of Sindh will make rest of Pakistan astonished.

    Please keep spreading messages like this. Its a service to Sindh and Pakistan.

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  • Ronica Shanzay
    Apr 22, 2013 - 2:45PM

    Inshallah he is going to win the election of 2013, becoz he is multitalented person :) the article is written very beautifully by Rabia ali :)

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  • Morons
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:16PM

    Its so heart warming to see ordinary people standing in elections. They face and are directly aware of the problems faced by the poor and the middle class.

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  • Rabia E
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:19PM

    All the best :) We’re with you.

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  • Rabia E
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:21PM

    All the best! we are with you :)

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  • SH
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:46PM

    Perfect!

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  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Apr 22, 2013 - 3:52PM

    Being a resident of NA-251, I can safely predict that this guy surely has his work cut out. Not only have the likes of Waseem Akhtar and Raza Haroon have completely vanished from this constituency and not even an iota of development work has been carried out here since 2008.

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  • Apr 22, 2013 - 3:53PM

    I have a feeling that this man is competent and can deliver, though my heart and vote is for PTI. They would be more competent and can deliver more :)

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  • Shan Nasir
    Apr 22, 2013 - 4:52PM

    hahahahha really proud to see new faces

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  • Baffled
    Apr 22, 2013 - 4:54PM

    @ Caffeine Dose

    Why waste your vote on PTI buddy .They will loose big time in Karachi InshaAllah .

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  • SyedPk
    Apr 22, 2013 - 5:13PM

    @ Sindhi_sufi,
    guys like you help are the reason why I still have faith in Humanity.

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  • Vote this time MoFos
    Apr 22, 2013 - 5:37PM

    I Like this guy and I hope in future he joins PTI….For now, my vote will be for PTI.

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  • Syed Arsalan Ali (Rocking DCETian)
    Apr 22, 2013 - 7:23PM

    I know him well, and I can see that he’ll win the elections. I expect him to promote the real soft image of Karachi and to legislate some useful laws for Pakistan.
    My best wishes are with him always..!

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  • sindhi
    Apr 22, 2013 - 9:43PM

    so the jist is, he is a son of an MNA, and is being protrayed as a a common man. if it were a ppp candidate he would have a been a fuedal.

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  • Falcon
    Apr 22, 2013 - 10:52PM

    PTI trolls are negatively active because they are less compliant than those getting together in congregation and waiting for a voice that is sitting abroad safely while Karachiites suffer with bloods, sweat, and tears.

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  • Apr 23, 2013 - 2:26AM

    Thank you all for the best wishes, I hope this period crosses safely for everyone :) We need your support and vote for the kite to bring Pakistan back on the right track, as it was prior to 2008!

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  • Malahar
    Apr 23, 2013 - 4:51AM

    Dear All,

    Thank you for your positive comments. I shared what a genuine Sindhi Sufi traditions teach us, a message of brotherhood, tolerance, pluralism, and love. I wish Syed Ali Raza Abidi success and hope that he will work for the betterment of people of the province. An educated person like him will prove a strong bridge between rural and urban Sindh.

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  • Zephyr Haq
    Apr 23, 2013 - 10:39AM

    Good luck Syed Ali Raza Abidi, I know MQM’s Candidates are best choice. They are honest and dedicated.

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  • R
    Apr 23, 2013 - 4:18PM

    It is more useful for Karachiites to vote for MQM even though they are not angels. They care more about Karachi than all other parties. I don´t like MQM but I would still vote for them

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  • Think again!!!
    Apr 23, 2013 - 5:39PM

    @Zephyr Haq:

    nice joke…..MQM and HONESTy…two completely different things..!!!!

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  • thought again
    Apr 23, 2013 - 8:15PM

    Fake degree , loan defaulter , swiss accounts , commission making , selling govt jobs ..not even the staunchest critic can allege MQM .stop fabrication .Tum hamesha jalte rahoge .
    peace .

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  • True Karachiwala
    Apr 25, 2013 - 1:03PM

    @Think again!!!: your sense of humour is questionable !

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  • Jude Allen
    Apr 30, 2013 - 12:18PM

    I think those in the food business should stick to food business.. and try and keep up with the quality… let the politicians do what they do best – i.e. Cook but something and make you believe its healthy. lol

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  • Umar Siddiqui
    Apr 30, 2013 - 4:59PM

    MWM (Majlis-e- Wehdat ul Muslimeen) is going to capture atleast 4 provincial seats and 2 National seats from Karachi , MWM will make a big upset this time in Karachi and will snatch MQM vote bank from it INSHALLAH .

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