KARACHI - All is set for by-elections in NA-243 (East-II) and PS-87 (Malir-I) constituencies today (Sunday). The NA-243 seat was vacated by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and now Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan.

As many as 432 booths for men and as many for women have been set up at 216 polling stations for 402,731 registered voters — 211,510 men and 191,221 women — in NA-243. Although 22 candidates are contesting the by-election in the constituency from different political parties and independently, the real competition is expected between Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Amir Waliuddin Chishti and PTI’s Alamgir Khan.  In the July 25 general elections, Khan had emerged victorious in NA-243 and he had bagged over 90,000 votes, followed by MQM-P’s Syed Ali Raza Abidi who could get around 22,000 votes. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Osama Razi had finished third.

Khan had decided to vacate this and other three seats and keep his hometown seat of Mianwali after being elected as MNA on five seats across the country.

The MQM-P is doing whatever it can to regain its lost turf and its entire organisational structure is on the ground. The PTI would love to have the same result as it got on July 25 this year, but it’s not going to be an easy task as Khan has already become the premier and is not contesting this time around.

Besides, Chishti and Alamgir, Syed Asif Hassnain of the Pak Sarzameen Party, Syed Nawazul Huda of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, Hakim Ali of the Pakistan People’s Party and Naeem Aktar of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal are on the final list of candidates as per the Election Commission of Pakistan. However, the Jamaat-e-Islami chief, Senator Sirajul Huq, had announced that his party would boycott the by-elections in Karachi. On the other hand, a tough battle is expected between the parties in power in the Centre and the province — the PTI and the Pakistan People’s Party— in PS-87, a mixture of different communities. The election in the provincial constituency was postponed due to death of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan candidate Shareef Ahmed Khanzada. Khanzada died in a road accident on July 14.

The locals are rating the PPP favourite as its candidate Haji Abdul Karim Bijar had defeated PTI’s Mansoor Ali in NA-236 (Malir-I), under which this provincial constituency lies, with a margin of around 40,000 votes in the general elections. However, the inner turmoil in the PPP ranks may dent its vote bank and favour the PTI. The PPP has fielded Muhammad Sajid Jokhio, the former provincial minister and party’s general secretary in Malir district, whereas the PTI awarded ticket to Qadir Bakhsh Gabol who is also very popular in the constituency. Besides, a total number of 26 candidates, including Qurban Ali of the TLP, Khalida Ateeb of the MQM-P and Muhammad Saleem would be in the contest today.