KARACHI - The last-minute election campaign in NA-246 on Tuesday reached its climax with all political parties giving final touches to their campaign.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a notification on Monday to extend the campaign deadline for 24-hour and it would end on the midnight of May 22.

The political parties would not be able to carry out any activity in the constituency after the deadline and now it is up to the voters to elect their favourite candidates for the National Assembly seat.

The three political groups are vying for getting support of other political parties having influence in the constituency. Kanwar Naveed is contesting elections from MQM while Imran Ismail and Rashid Naseem are representing PTI and JI respectively.  

On Tuesday, Jamaat-i-Islami was able to muster support of three more religious g2roups - Jamiat-Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) and Jamiat Ulemai-i-Islam (Samiul Haq group) and Jamaat Ahle Hadith. These parties were also the part of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal - a religious coalition in past when the JI got more than 32,000 votes in the same constituency.

JUI-F leader Qari Usman and JUI-S leader Qari Abdul Mannan, in separate meetings with JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, JI candidate Rashid Naseem and others at their offices, on Tuesday announced their all out party support to the JI candidate in by-polls on NA-246.

Hafiz Naeem said the support of both the parties including JUI-F and JUI-S would be a milestone in bringing the real change in Karachi. He further said the JI leadership was making contact with all the political and religious parties in order to bring revolution in Karachi as well as Pakistan. With the support of all patriotic forces, the JI will produce surprising results in NA-246.

Furthermore, Qari Abdul Mannan of JUI-S had also assured that the party workers will support JI in the by-poll on April-23.   Muttahida Qaumi Movement has a support of most political groups. Ten Shia organisations on Monday announced supporting MQM and appealed to the community members to vote for its candidate, Kunwar Naveed Jamil. Allama Zohair Abbas Abidi, Allama Ather Mashadi, Allama Ali Karar Naqvi and other Shia religious leaders made the announcement at a press conference at the Khursheed Begum Hall. Ahle Hadith Rabita Council, Awami Muslim League leader Mehfooz Yar Khan and Pakistan Sunni Tehreek leader Matloob Awan had also announced their support for MQM candidate.  Pakistan Tehreek-i-insaf, emerged as a new power in Karachi politics, has also been able to got support of three political groups. Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen - a shia organisation - announced its support for the party after PTI Karachi chief Ali Zaidi met with their leadership. PTI was also able to garner support of Sunni Tehreek - led by Sarwat Ejaz Qadri - and Jamiat Ulemai-i-Islam (Noorani group).

The three main political parties had carried out a vigorous campaign in the constituency to attract more people towards them with MQM holding corner meetings and carrying out door-to-door campaigns in different areas of the constituency. The Karachi-based party has also set up their main election camp at Jinnah Ground, Azizabad where they had held musical nights and other events to gather its supporters.  Jamaat-i-islami, which is the second most organised political party in the constituency, has also been able to organise corner meetings and took out rallies under the leadership of its chief Sirajul Haq. JI had also set up its main election camp at Shahrah-e-Pakistan.  

PTI has remained the most active party in the constituency in terms of its day-to-day rallies in the constituency, however, it has not been able to go door-to-door for its campaign like MQM and JI.  

One of its rally was also led by its chief Imran Khan when he visited Jinnah Ground along with his wife Reham Khan. Party candidate Imran Ismail also tried to interact with the people of the constituency by offering Friday prayers in different mosques of the constituency. He also visited famous Nihari hotel in the area.  The election campaign in the constituency also witnessed clashes of the PTI and the JI workers with the MQM, however, no serious injuries were reported.  The three parties also organised public gatherings at Shahrah-e-Pakistan with MQM organising its gathering on April 18 - addressed by MQM chief Altaf Hussain; PTI gathering on April 19 - addressed by PTI chairman Imran Khan and JI public gatherings for men and women on April 12 and 17 respectively - addressed by its chief Sirajul Haq.

Meanwhile, special security arrangements were also taken in the constituency with Rangers to play prime role in maintaining security during the by-poll while more than 7,000 policemen would also be deployed in the area.

The provincial government has also installed 1,200 security cameras at polling stations and major thoroughfares of the constituency to maintain law and order situation. The Sindh government has also imposed ban on pillion riding in the city for three days. The Rangers had also asked the Karachiites to move, all the time, with their original CNICs. However, the demand for installation of biometric system from Rangers, PTI and JI were rejected by the election commission and Sindh government, saying they have not enough time to do it.