KARACHI - Realising the political vacuum developed in Karachi after splits in Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), various political parties have now begun to eye their share in the port city’s politics.

Karachi is normally considered a bastion of MQM, but the breakup of the latter into various groups has provided an opportunity to the newly emerging political factions and mainstream political parties to strengthen their vote bank in the country’s commercial hub. 

Various parties, MQM-Pakistan, led by Dr Farooq Sattar, MQM-London, run by London-based Nadeem Nusrat and the newly formed party Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), led by former mayor Karachi Syed Mustafa Kamal and MQM former deputy convener Anis Qaim Khani, now claim they have a stake in the city. The split in MQM has given an immense opportunity to the other political forces to make their presence felt.

Only recently, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate has won the by-polls for PS-127, Malir Karachi, by defeating MQM-Pakistan’s candidate.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in order to give a new identity to the party in Karachi’s politics, has given the PPP Karachi President slot to former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain who is facing corruption and terrorism-related charges. But since he is recognized in Karachi’s politics, he has been given the slot.

It has also been witnessed that scores of local MQM leaders and workers have also joined PPP in various localities of the metropolis following pressure mounted on them to change their loyalties.

PTI’s leadership has also given an impression that it was high time to focus on politics of Karachi.

Party Chairman Imran Khan has made couple of visits to the city and vowed to resolve its issues.

PTI had given surprising results in the General Elections of 2013 by securing more than 0.8million votes from the port city. The party’s leadership seems quite interested in taking advantage of the current political situation of the city, and has given a proposal to Imran to visit Karachi every month for deriving maximum political mileage. On the other hand, PML-Nawaz also seems to be quite confident as its Karachi-based leader Senator Nihal Hashmi not only held a rally in the city, but also claims to give surprising results in the next general elections.

It has also been reported that a number of MQM-Pakistan activists, troubled by the crackdown by the law-enforcement agencies, have joined the PML-Nawaz, particularly in Malir and its adjoining areas. Apart from this, PML-Nawaz Karachi is focusing on expanding its organisational structure to other parts of the city.

Awami National Party (ANP) that was hit hard by violence during the election campaign of 2013 is currently trying to revive itself in the Pakhtoon dominated areas of Karachi. So far, ANP has claimed to have held a successful workers’ convention in the city whereas its decision making body, Mardan House, has announced to hold a massive public gathering in Karachi which would be addressed by party chief Asfandyar Wali.

ANP Sindh leadership had on various occasions has complained that the party is not provided level playing field in the general and local bodies’ elections, but after reformation in the party structure, it would not leave the field open to the rivals in the next polls.

However, the political analysts believe that ANP has lost its political turf in the Pakhtoon dominated areas of Karachi due to continuous attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on its leaders.

While the poor performance of the party legislators is also the reason of its downfall and the cracks developing within it.

In the last local government elections in the city, PTI, Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal and JI had emerged as key electoral political forces in Pakthoon areas.

It’s worth mentioning here that the popularity of MQM founder and chief Altaf Hussain remains unhurt.

The survey conducted by The Nation reveals that three years of long operation against MQM and a ban on Altaf’s speeches have failed to disassociate Karachiites from the party chief. It is also worth mentioning here that MQM-London’s structure is still intact despite frequent arrests made by the security agencies.

Majority of the leaders and workers, who joined other factions or parties willingly or under duress after the start of the operation, remained in contact with London-based leadership and are now looking for the right time to switch back to their parent party. 









Farraz Israr