By Zia Ur Rehman
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Although the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, by carving out new boundaries of the Malir district in a manner that is likely to dent the vote bank of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, seems to have given itself an edge in the upcoming local government polls but there are still political rivals it will to have to contend with.
There are six district municipal corporations in the city – Korangi, East, Central, West, South, and Malir.
After the recent delimitation, the Malir district municipal corporation has 13 union committees – Dawood Chowrangi, Muslimabad, Muzaffarabad, Majeed Colony, Cattle Colony, Quaidabad, Khuldabad, Moinabad, Sharafi Goth, Jaffar Tayyar Society, Ghazi Dawood Brohi Goth, Gharibabad and Bhitaiabad.
The district has been incorporated in areas mostly falling in the constituencies of NA-258, NA-257 and NA-255 and PS-129, PS-128, PS-127 and the Bhitaiabad area of PS-126. Most of these union committees were part of the defunct Landhi, Bin Qasim and Malir towns.
The rural areas of the Malir district lie under the District Council Karachi, a separate local body that the provincial government revived in May this year, accepting a longstanding demand of their residents.
In the delimitation process, the Mohajir- or Urdu-speaker-populated neighbourhoods were excluded from the Malir DMC and included in Korangi.
Declaring the step as pre-poll rigging, the MQM expressed its reservations over the delimitation of Karachi’s districts. It said the PPP-led provincial government had mixed up several areas of the Malir and Korangi districts.
The MQM challenged the delimitation in the Sindh High Court, but in late September, the court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to stick to current boundaries.
However, PPP leaders said the Malir DMC, since its formation, had never comprised of MQM-influenced areas and during Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime in 2001, at the behest of the MQM, parts of it were deliberately incorporated into the then towns of Landhi, Malir and Bin Qasim to make it harder for its opponents, especially the PPP, to win.
Political analysts believe that the MQM is now in a position to win only four union committees of the Malir DMC – Majeed Colony, Khuldabad, Jaffar Tayyar Society and Gharibabad – the Urdu-speaker-populated neighbourhoods of the district.
JI and PTI versus PPP
The rest of the Malir DMC comprises Pashtun-, Baloch- and Sindhi-populated areas, and the PPP is expected to face a tough time contesting the polls against other political parties, especially the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Political leaders say that most parties are eyeing the slot of the Malir DMC chairperson and will mainly prefer the seats of vice chairpersons in local alliances at the union committee level as they will vote for the district’s top slot.
Habibullah Khan, the PPP president in PS-128, is confident that his party will easily form its government in the Malir DMC.
“The PPP has carried out mega development projects in the union committees of the Malir DMC. We will win the local government polls on the basis of our performance,” Khan told The News. He added that his party had fielded candidates in all 13 union committees.
Shah Jahan, the chief minister’s coordinator and the PPP Karachi division vice-president, is a strong candidate for the Malir DMC chairperson seat, PPP sources said.
However, Khwaja Muhammad Awan, a former provincial labour minister, is also in the race for the seat.
The JI too is interested in the slots of the district’s chairperson and vice chairperson and has fielded candidates for the deputy slots in union committees after seat adjustment with other parties, especially the PTI, the PPP and the Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat.
Muhamamd Nawaz, the JI Landhi zone chief, said his party had fielded one candidate for the chairperson and nine candidates for the vice chairpersons seats after seat adjustment with other political parties and community-based organisations.
“We have a support base and strong organisational structure in the district and will surely fetch the slot of the Malir DMC chairperson,” he added.
The PTI, a new entrant, is an emerging force that can unbalance the political landscape of the area and its district organiser Inayat Khattak is running for the post of the DMC chairperson.
The PTI was unable to bag any seat in the 2013 general polls in the constituencies falling in the Malir DMC but had bagged a significant number of votes there.
“The residents of the district are frustrated with the political parties that have ruled the area. This time they will vote fir the PTI candidates in all union committees of the Malir DMC,” said Ghous Baacha, a PTI candidate in Muzaffarabad.
Although the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had secured the seats of NA-258 and PS-129 in the 2013 general polls, the internal rifts within the party and the poor performance of its lawmakers in the area has caused problems for the party candidates in the union committees of the Malir DMC.
The ASWJ, whose central leader Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi had bagged over 23,000 votes in PS-128, is also contesting the polls in the district’s union committees after forging alliances with the JI and the PPP. In the Muzaffarabad UC, the ASWJ Malir district president Maulana Mahiuddin Shah is in the race for the seat of the chairperson, along with PPP’s Haji Misal Khan for the vice chairperson.
Similarly, in the Dawood Chowrangi UC, ASWJ’s Maulana Zareen is contesting the elections in alliance with a JI candidate.
The ANP, which had won in the constituency of PS-128 in the 2008 general polls and the Muslimabad UC in the 2005 local government elections, has fielded its candidates in some union committees of the of Malir DMC.