Less than a week before the elections, the Awami National Party (ANP) candidate has little hope of winning. “I’ll leave Karachi once the elections are over,” he admits.
As a first-time contender, Abdul Rehman Khan has already received his fair share of threats and anonymous phone calls warning him to leave. “I’ve been threatened to pay Rs2 million as extortion and to leave the party,” he said, adding that he escaped an attack on his life only a few days ago.
With militants cooking up a storm this election season, NA-255 hasn’t been spared. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which has the kite symbol, is struggling to participate in the elections amid threats and attacks on its offices, while the Mohajir Qaumi Movement – Haqiqi (MQM-H) is trying to enter the political scene – never mind it can hardly enter the constituency it’s contesting. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), while not under such threats, is trying to swing a sixer with its bat, while the Awami National Party (ANP) is making sure its lantern glows.
This constituency covers a major chunk of Korangi and nearly all of Landhi. Since January this year, the neighbourhood has seen several bomb blasts and is one of the worst affected areas during spells of law and order breakdown.
The army should be fully deployed in this constituency,” demanded Khalid Mehmood Ali Advocate of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). For Ali, the constituency also faced severe shortages of electricity and water, and proper sewage lines, which further added to the woes if its residents.
Khalid Hameed, the spokesperson for MQM-H chief Afaq Ahmed, who is contesting this seat, said that transportation, drinking water, illegal hydrants and encroachment are the biggest issues. “Not a single drop of water has been supplied to the residents of Sharif Colony and Landhi Sector 36-G in the last 10 years,” he claimed, complaining that the party has been unable to set up an election office in the area. “Deweaponisation can solve many problems.”
For the MQM, the area has seen some developments. According to the party’s former MNA from this constituency Syed Asif Hasnain, 12 English-medium schools, a law college and two playgrounds were built recently apart from the revamping of the 40-year-old sewerage system. A medical college is still incomplete, but the Landhi Medical Hospital has been provided with a dialysis facility, he added.
Hasnain agreed that supply of drinking water was a major issue, but he said the problem existed because influential people were running illegal hydrants. The MQM emerged victorious in 2008 when Hasnain won the seat, but the MQM-H won in the 2002 elections. This year too, the main fight is expected between the two rivals.
NA-255 comprises one complete provincial constituency, PS-122, while it shares the rest of the three provincial seats – PS-123, PS-127 and PS-128 – with other constituencies.
MQM was victorious in the past two elections in PS-122, which includes Landhi Area C-1, Khwaja Ajmer Colony, Landhi No. 3-1/2, Sector-36-E, Zamanabad, Burmese Colony and Sherabad Colony of Karachi East.
The second provincial seat, PS-123, was also won by the MQM in the past two elections, but this year the MQM-H has also put up its candidate. This constituency includes Korangi No.6, 35-B, sectors 50-A and 50-C, and K area, Zaman Town, Hasrat Mohani Colony and 100 Quarters.
On PS-125, MQM’s Moin Aamir Pirzada has been winning the seat since 2002. He is contesting the upcoming elections as well. This constituency includes Gulshan-e-Millat Sector 10, Awami Colony, Mehran Town, Bilal Colony, Korangi sector 33 and 34, and Gulzar Colony.
The last provincial seat – PS-128 – overlaps with NA-257 as well. This is the only provincial seat in this area that MQM lost in 2008 to the ANP. It includes Muslimabad, Labour Colony, Dawood Challi, Moinabad, Future Colony, Sharafi Goth and a few parts of Bhutto Nagar.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.