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EditorialKarachi by-polls lessons

Karachi by-polls lessons

What was being dubbed a tough contest between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate and the candidate of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), who was backed by 13 political parties, for NA-245 by-polls turned out to be a one-sided affair in the favour of the PTI candidate. The PTI candidate, Mahmood Baki Maulvi, successfully defended the seat vacated in the wake of the death of its former member of the assembly, Amir Liaquat Hussain, in the by-election for NA-245 in Karachi. Despite the glaring case of low turnout, the PTI candidate won the seat with a convincing lead. According to the unofficial results, PTI’s Mehmood Baki Maulvi got 29,475 votes, followed by MQM-P’s Moeed Anwar who got 13,193 and Muhammad Ahmad Raza Qadri of Tehreek Labaik Pakistan who stood third with 9,836 votes. It was predicted that former MQM leader Farooq Sattar, who was in the field as an independent candidate, would weaken the MQM-P votes, but he only ended up with 3,479 votes. Likewise, Muhammad Shahid of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement got 1,177 votes and secured the fifth position. The by-election has proved unquestionable electoral popularity first in the Punjab by-polls and now in Karachi besides Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. That leaves a little iota of doubts about the acceptance of Imran Khan’s narrative among the public. One may disagree with his views on the foreign conspiracy in the no-confidence motion, but the reality is that Imran Khan has time and again defeated the alliance of the ruling parties. Consider: Even if the votes of these four competitors of Mehmood Maulvi are put all together, they remain less than the votes of the PTI. The MQM had the full support of the influential parties of Karachi, such as the Pakistan People’s Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam as they withdrew in favour of the MQM-P candidate. Once a formidable rival, the Awami National Party also supported the MQM-P.

Until 2013, the MQM had full control of the port city, mainly due to the muscle politics of then-party leader Altaf Hussain, mainly due to its appeal among the urban voters. Not anymore. Since 2018, the PTI has managed to win several seats in Karachi. Now, the next big challenge for the PTI is the upcoming second phase of the local council elections. So far, the MQM-P has been holding dominance in the metropolitan corridors. It is most likely that the PTI will win the local council polls the way it retained the NA-245 seat which belonged to it. The by-poll result will boost its workers’ morale as it has shown its power to bring its supporters to the polling booths, while its rival parties failed to do so. The MQM-P should blame itself for the humiliating defeat it suffered in its stronghold. Its intraparty divide discouraged its traditional voters. A common matter of concern for all parties is the low voting rate which was only 12 percent. The low turnout should worry the political scientists and political parties to study the atmosphere which reduces the interest of the people in the political process and this is a matter of concern for our entire political leadership.

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