The MQM and PML-N appear to have emerged victorious in the third and final phase of local government (LG) polls held in Karachi and Punjab respectively. The status quo is here to stay.

The MQM secured 135 seats in the election for six Karachi districts. PTI’s tenuous alliance with the JI got them 11 and seven seats respectively. Both the JI and PTI are natural allies, but their association with each doesn’t help either one. It can even be claimed that the alliance backfired for the PTI, and they lost votes to the MQM. Karachites had no other choice than MQM despite its militant and corrupt past.

MQM preparation and party organization was much better than all the opponents put together. They also have a much stronger charter along the lines of separate province or a larger share for Karachi in the revenue it generates. Additionally, the MQM workers are the most visible in their localities, and people will vote for the person close to them, seen working for them. Remember that workers are self-interested agents as well. What is it to them is the MQM has guns hidden in Nine Zero, if their local representative is making things better for them or echoing their own views about Karachi’s welfare? The same goes for the PML-N. The local linkages and social ties are much too strong. Corruption and inefficiency at the national level does little damage to votes. Even the accusations of MQM being associated with RAW didn’t dent their success.

This will encourage the MQM after a hard year for them in politics. It can only be hoped that they keep in mind that they have got the mandate to serve the people of Karachi and not a license to kill the people and make their lives miserable. There should be an end to politics of strikes, violence, extortion, target-killing and etc., though we know that it would be asking a but too much of the MQM.

We can only guess what strategy the PTI will try to go for next. Karachi is firmly in the hands of the MQM, and crying foul, or alleging rigging, is not an option in the political context. Additionally, reports suggest that the polling was as peaceful and fair as could be.

And where is the PPP in all this? It seems that no one is even asking this question. It is as if the people of Karachi have written it off.