by Zia Ur Rehman
July 23, 2015
Syed Waliullah, a veteran activist of the Pakistan People’s Party in Sherpao Colony neighbourhood of Landhi, has submitted his application for contesting the local government polls scheduled to be held in September this year from Union Council 3 (Dawood Chorangi) of Malir district
Waliullah is confident that he and other PPP candidates will win the elections.
“The PPP is a federal party with mass support among the residents of the city. The constituents of my area will give me votes on the basis of the development work the party has carried out,” Waliullah told The News.
On July 20, PPP Karachi division president Najmi Alam asked the party’s aspiring activists to submit their applications for contesting the polls with the required documents.
Alam had also instructed the aspirants to submit Rs1,000 for the post of the chairman and the vice chairman and Rs500 for councillor’s seat.
Lateef Mughal, the PPP Karachi information secretary, said the party had kicked off its preparation for the local government elections in the city.
“The party will contest the elections in all six districts of the Karachi Municipal Corporation and District Council Karachi,” he told The News.
He said after receiving the applications, the party would form a board that would decide the candidates for the slots.
There are six district municipal corporations – South, West, East, Central, Malir and Korangi.
Also, there is a District Council Karachi, a separate local body for the rural parts of the city that was revived recently by the PPP government by accepting a long-standing demand of their residents.
There are 31 union councils in DMC South, 46 in DMC West, 31 in DMC East, 51 in DMC Central, 17 in DMC Malir and 36 in DMC Korangi, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Ideal time for the PPP?
As the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has ruled the municipality for years, is going through the turbulent phase because of the ongoing crackdown of the law enforcement agencies – especially Rangers – and the legal cases in London, party insiders and political analyst believe that it is the ideal time for the PPP to contest the local government polls in the city,
“The PPP will now work rigorously for the local government polls as it has been delaying them for years fearing undesirable results,” said a PPP leader who is privy to the developments.
“In a recent meeting held in Dubai, the party’s central leadership, especially Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, mainly discussed the local government polls in the province, especially its capital, Karachi.”
Abdul Jabbar Nasir, a veteran journalist who extensively covers the city’s politics, said the PPP was trying to exploit the situation the MQM was facing.
PPP leaders are confident that the party could win the polls in the South, West and Malir districts easily. But, it would be difficult for them to win a significant number of seats in Central, East and Korangi districts, which are heavily dominated by the Urdu-speaking community or Mohajirs who largely support the MQM.
Analysts believe that the PPP could form an anti-MQM alliance in these districts to win the polls, but it would be no easy task.
Mughal said the party leadership would form alliances with like-minded political parties. “We have also permitted the local leadership to forge alliances in their areas according to the ground situation,” he added.
“It is correct that the MQM is in hot water these days but winning in Urdu-speaking neighbourhoods isn’t easy,” Nasir told The News.
“The MQM might exploit the ongoing crackdown and the formation of such alliances and use the ‘Mohajir card’ to seek sympathy votes from its Urdu-speaking constituents.”
The MQM had successfully used the ‘Mohajir card’ in the NA-246 by-elections held in April this year.
Problems in other districts
In the West, South and Malir districts and the District Council Karachi, the situation is different and the PPP would have other opponents to tackle, analysts believe.
In the DMC West, which has a number of Pashtun-populated union councils, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf could emerge as the main challenger for the PPP.
Other parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Awami National Party, might also give a tough time to the PPP in different localities of the DMC West.
After the new delimitation and the formation of the District Council Karachi, the DMC Malir has a mixed population.
Sami Memon, a Malir-based journalist, said influential politicians, including Haji Shafi Jamot and Khuda Dino Shah, could form a powerful alliance against the PPP.
Jam Bijar, an influential politician of Malir region, has invited the heads of all clans, political leaders and civil society activists of the area to discuss the local bodies polls in the DMC Malir and the District Council Karachi.
Memon said it seemed that an-anti PPP alliance in the DMC Malir and the District Council was likely to be formed in the coming days.
Jamot and Abdul Hakeem Baloch, on the ticket of the Paksitan Muslim League-Nawaz, had defeated the PPP in the PS-129 and NA-258 constituencies of Malir respectively. One of their associates, Saleem Baloch Kalmati, had lost with narrow margin in PS-130 to PPP’s Sajid Jokhio.
In the DMC South, mainly consisting Lyari and the Old City areas, the PPP’s position is strong.
However, the PTI and the MQM could give it a run for its money in some of its union councils.