All eyes are fixed on the hot seats of Sindh in Karachi, Thatta, Sanghar and Shikarpur. Political archrivals have started efforts to woo the voters and influence the local administration – the murky politics of allegations is well under way. While today’s elections are being contested for four provincial and three National Assembly seats, the real prestige contests will be observed in hot constituencies being sought by different parties.
Korangi – a dominance shaken?
Signs of change are simmering in NA-254 (Karachi-XVI) where MQM’s Mohammad Ali Rashid will face Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Muhammad Naeem Sheikh.
Historically, the seat belongs to the MQM. In 2008, MQM’s Dr Muhammad Ayoub Shaikh clinched the seat securing 132,648 votes. In the 2013 elections, balloting was postponed after the murder of ANP candidate Sadiq Zaman Khattak.
And yet, despite the history of successive MQM wins, the situation seems more complicated this time around, as both the ANP and Jamaat-e-Islami have boycotted the election. Maulana Abdul Sattar of the PPP and PML-N’s Mian Ilyas Raheed are also in the race, but their chances are dim. The real contest will be between the MQM and PTI candidates.
Thatta: PML-N vs PPP
The mighty Shirazi brothers, who had contested the general elections as independent candidates before joining the PML-N, have nominated Syed Riaz Shah Shirazi for NA-237 (Thatta-I). Riaz lost the May 11 election to PPP’s Sadiq Memon. However, since the election commission has declared Memon ineligible to hold office because of his dual nationality, the PPP has nominated his mother, Shamsunnia Memon, to contest this time around. Analysts expect a close match between the candidates of the two parties.
Up in the North
Another seat that is expected to witness a close contest is PS-103 (North Nazimabad). While three contestants – MQM’s Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, PTI’s Sultan Ahmed, and PPP’s Shaikh Faisal Eijaz – are vying for the crown, observers believe the seat will be taken by either Siddiqui, a former provincial minister for industries, or Ahmed, one of the oldest members of the PTI.
In the May 11 polls, the MQM retained its winning edge and bagged 40,000 votes. The seat was declared vacant after the death of MQM MPA Sajid Qureshi.
Butting heads with Pir Pagara’s party
A close contest is expected between Shazia Marri of the PPP and Khuda Bux Dars of PML-F for NA-235 (Sanghar-II). Marri, who lost the seat to PML –F’s Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi in the May 11 general election, is once again in the race.
“Shazia Marri has been given full government protocol,” claimed PML-F’s Jam Madad Ali. “The party leaders have even started pre-poll rigging.” PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, however, dismissed the allegation. “The PPP doesn’t believe in rigging,” he said.
Between the tribes
A battle of the tribal chieftains from the Mahar, Jatoi and Bhaio clans is likely in Shikarpur, for PS-12 seat. For this, PPP’s Abid Hussain Bhaio and Ameer Khan Jatoi of the PML-N will come face to face. The seat was declared vacant when PPP’s legislator Allah Dino, aka Babal Bahio, was disqualified after being found guilty of submitting a fake degree. While it is a neck-and-neck contest at the moment, political observers predict that the situation may tip in favour of the PPP.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.