KARACHI - Top political parties of Karachi are vying for victory in PS-114 by-poll in order to prove their stakes in the city which had witnessed opening up of political space after splits among Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) factions that had once strong foothold in the metropolis.

The three top political parties that analysts believe could have better chances to win the election are Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) that is being supported by former MPA from the constituency Irfanullah Marwat, Muttahida Qaumi Movemnet-Pakistan- that remained runners up in last elections and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) the ruling party of the Sindh province and had also fielded a strong candidate in the face of Saeed Ghani.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf that had fielded Najeeb Haroon on the seat is considered one of the favourites to win elections as he is not only one of the founding members of the PTI and enjoys support among majority of party factions but had also able to garner support of former PML-Nawaz MPA Irfanullah Marwat, who had been disqualified from the seat on Supreme Court orders after which re-election on the seat is ordered.

Marwat won the seat in general; elections in 2013 by 33,000 votes and his support base in the area is strong not only among his Marwat clan but also among the minorities especially Christians. He earlier had plans to join PPP, however, strong opposition from daughters of Asif Ali Zardari due to his involvement on torture on PPP candidates in 1990s and involvement in Veena Hayat Rape case created problems for him to join PPP despite a meeting with Asif Ali Zardari.

He later decided not to contest polls from the area and instead announced his support to the PTI candidate in order to give tough time to PPP candidate Saeed Ghani.

Pakistan People’s Party is once again trying to prove its stake in urban centers in the province and the party along with carrying out development projects is focusing on bring more Karachi based faces in the provincial assembly and cabinet in order to woo the city voters for the next general elections.

The party had fielded its strong candidate Senator Saeed Gnai who not only had a strong base on ground in the constituency due to his residence in Chanesar Goth and being elected union council chairman in 2001 from the area and his clean face. 

The party was so confident regarding Ghani’s candidature that just after three days of the SC’s order to conduct re-polling; the PPP was the first party to announce Ghani, as its candidate for the by-elections.

The party leaders to whom The Nation contacted said that the victory was necessary for the party to prove its stake in the city and for the same reason it had decided to bring forward Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on ground in the by-election. The PPP chairman would address a public gathering in the constituency on July 7 just ahead of the time limit from the Election Commission of Pakistan to end campaign activities from parties.

Meanwhile, the PPP had also received support from different political groups including Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan and Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, making its support base stronger among different ethnic and religious entities.

The PPP is confident that it would win the by-polls because Ghani is a local of the constituency and has good reputation. He was elected nazim of the Chanesar Goth union council in 2001 and his brother Farhan Ghani was elected chairman for the neighborhood in the December 2015 local government polls.

Moreover, Muttahida Qaumi Movement that remained runners up in 2013 general elections after Irfanullah Marwat had fielded Kamran Tessori who also had some support base in the constituency other than the Urdu speaking vote that the MQM had enjoyed from the constituency in the past.

The MQM has won PS-114 several times earlier and its candidates Mirza Shahid Baig and Rana Safdar Ali won the constituency in the 1990 and the 1993 general elections respectively while in the 2008 polls the MQM’s Siddiqui won the constituency.

However, the party this time could face tough time to match up to the expectations as it is facing split among two other factions and with reports of MQM-London supporting the rival candidate of PPP in the by-polls.  

The provincial assembly constituency PS-114 comprises 292,875 registered voters including Karachi Administration Employees Cooperative Housing Society (KAECH), Defence View, Azam Basti, Mehmoodabad No 1 to 6, Chanesar Goth and Manzoor AKhter and Rehman colonies.

The past results shows that Irfanullah Khan Marwat as an independent candidate won provincial assembly constituency in general election of year 2002 by securing 22,043 votes and defeated  MQM candidate Syed Afsar Sageer who secured 11,597 votes.

In general election of 2008 MQM candidate Abdul Rauf Siddiqui marks the victory with 22,840 votes leaving behind Irfanullah Khan Marwat. Lastly in general election 2013 Irfanullah Khan Marwat won the constituency on PML-Nawaz ticket but was declared void by election tribunal in 2014 and later this year Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered re-polling in PS-114.

Separately, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has shelved plan to use biometric voting machines (BVM) in by-election of PS-114. Earlier it was in consideration to use the machines in PS-114 by-election and on its success the machines were planned to be used in next general election.

According to details, the pilot project was using four different technologies in the PS-114 by-elections to ensure the transparency including the techniques SMS, RMS, GIS and RTS. The voters in the constituency were planned to get details about their polling station and vote numbers through SMS along with the details of 92 polling stations by visiting Google Map Application.

Furthermore, the plan also includes the compiling of the results by the returning officers through mobiles using result management system.