By Zia Ur Rehman

Friday, November 06, 2015 –

Claiming to have organised itself at gross-roots level in Karachi, especially in Sindhi-populated neighbourhoods, the Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) has decided to test the waters by taking part in the upcoming local government polls in the city.

Led by Ayaz Latif Palijo, a known political figure, the party has fielded its candidates, mainly for District Council, a separate local body system for the city’s rural and coastal areas, recently revived by the Sindh government, and in some union committees of the Malir and East districts.

Anwar Soomro, the QAT’s central secretary general, said his party had fielded over 60 candidates from different parts of the city.

“The QAT is becoming very popular in the city and a large number of people have been attending our rallies and activities in different nieghbourhoods,” he told The News on Thursday.

A delegation of the QAT candidates visited different parts and met residents and social activists.

Arshad Baloch, the QAT secretary general in Karachi, said the party had nominated candidates in the Malir region from Ghaghar, Gulshen-e-Hadeed and Pipri for District Council and Ghazi Dawood Brohi Goth and Bhittai Abad from the DMC Malir and Model Colony from District Korangi.

“Our party is an ideological political party, which has always played a key role in bringing peace to the city by organising a Muhabat Sindh rally, a two-day protest camp against corruption and terrorism and other pro-peace activities,” said Baloch.

Political analysts believe that the QAT’s decision of contesting polls in Karachi shows that Sindhi nationalist parties have now developed interest in the city’s parliamentary politics. “Earlier, Sindhi nationalist leaders would take a lot of flak for ignoring the city in their politics, but now their focus has been changing, but only in respect of political activities, instead of parliamentary politics,” said Sami Memon, a Malir-based veteran journalist.

Lack of employment opportunities and floods and droughts in the province have compelled a large number of young rural Sindhis to move to Karachi, and that has changed the political reality in the city. However, Sindhi nationalist parties have not taken any interest in the city’s politics.

Mehran Khaskheli, a young political activist in Sachal Goth, said nationalist parties had handed over the city’s Sindhi and Baloch population to the Pakistan People’s Party while not showing their interest in the local politics. “Now the QAT has fielded its candidates from Sindhi neighborhoods but without having any homework. They only want to show their presence in the area,” he said.

Memon, concurring with Khaskheli, said that since Sindhi nationalist parties, such as the QAT, generally represented the middle class, they would not affect the upcoming elections. “They have to face the PPP and powerful tribal chieftains in District Council, where without any proper preparation and tribal support base, it is very difficult to win seats,” he said.