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Who will win Karachi PS-114 by-election?

By Shahjahan Khurram Photography and Videography by: Muhammad Farooq Dhedhi Video Editing by: Fahad Khan KARACHI: PS-114 is up for grabs again on July 9 when voters take to the ballot box in order to choose their candidate. Among the plethora of candidates, the contest is likely to be fierce among only two–MQM’s Kamran Tessori and...

SAMAA | - Posted: Jul 8, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
Posted: Jul 8, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago

By Shahjahan Khurram

Photography and Videography by: Muhammad Farooq Dhedhi

Video Editing by: Fahad Khan

KARACHI: PS-114 is up for grabs again on July 9 when voters take to the ballot box in order to choose their candidate. Among the plethora of candidates, the contest is likely to be fierce among only two--MQM's Kamran Tessori and PPP's Saeed Ghani.

Elections in Pakistan are nothing short of a festival, with party supporters dancing, chanting slogans and singing songs as party leaders wave to the masses from atop the stage. Chanesar Goth was where Saeed Ghani had decided to flex his muscles and show rival candidates that the constituency was his for the taking.

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One can't help but wonder as he makes his way through the narrow alleys filled with darkness and slums on both sides of the dilapidated roads as to why people still clamour for the same old parties and their candidates. The people living in these slums were clearly accustomed to austere living conditions which were often hampered by power outages, dilapidated roads, lack of proper housing facilities and hygiene.

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The main stage where an impassioned Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was addressing his supporters was far away from where the actual crowd was gathered to witness him speak. One could clearly hear his voice over the loud booming speakers, making nebulous statements and vague promises to people who cheered at his every word.

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"When Nawaz Sharif took to power, we warned him that this is not Vajpayee or Manmohan Singh. This this is the butcher of Gujarat," he screamed. "But Sharifs were more busy in making business relationships than working for the poor," he added.

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Saeed Ghani's photoshopped images with Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari and Bilawal on banners looked down at us from atop surrounding buildings and in the hands of supporters. It was clear that whosoever the party would field, the voters would support him come July 9.

As Saeed Ghani, Bilawal Bhutto and other senior leaders of the party left the area for their own homes, a couple of PPP supporters stated their resolve to vote for the party no matter what.

"I've been living in this area for the past 70 years and one thing that I can tell you is that Saeed Ghani is a man of the people," said an elderly party worker. "Ghareeb ka beta hai" (he is the son of the poor).

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The PPP worker was quick to point out that there was a lot of garbage in the alleys which Saeed Ghani would have to take notice of when he comes to power and the fact that there were no schools in the area. He was full of praises for the PPP senator who, according to him, had brought water to this area.

An elderly woman, dressed in the party's colours and carrying its flag, was charged up by Saeed Ghani's power show.

"I was a little girl when Bhutto sahab was passing by this area for Manzoor Colony," she said. "Police officers were baton charging us to keep us away. Bhutto sahab got out of his vehicle and told the police to back off. He then met us. Such was his caliber," she added.

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She credited Saeed Ghani with bringing water to Chanesar Goth and also laying sewerage lines in the area for the benefits of the residents. According to her, she and other residents of Chanesar Goth had to seek water all the way from Nursery before Saeed Ghani solved the issue.

She defiantly stood her ground when the name of Kamran Tessori, the MQM candidate, was mentioned.

"You'll see how Saeed Ghani trounces Tessori come July 9. Ab teer chalega, teer chalega (the arrow will rule)," she said to the cheer of the surrounding party workers.

Not far from PPP's power show was MQM's political rally where party supporters had gathered in Manzoor Colony to rouse their supporters ahead of the election. As is typically the case in MQM's events, this was a more organised function with walk-through security gates and volunteers deployed at every entrance route.

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Farooq Sattar was making a fiery speech, urging the PPP candidate that it was futile to contest against Kamran Tessori since the power of the people stood with MQM. Sattar is a renowned orator and has the ability to send the audience into hysterics with jokes of his own.

Farooq Sattar Speech Mqm Jalsa PS 114 Khi 07-07

"They used to accuse us of dhunai (intimidation, beating up) but this time PPP will face dhulai (cleaning)," he said as the crowd roared with laughter.

Kamran Tisori Speech Mqm Jalsa PS 114 Khi 07-07

Chairs were lined all the way up to a certain point beyond which were hundreds of party supporters chanting slogans and waving party flags. Some of the chairs were empty and on the others sat disenchanted supporters.

Sattar is a shrewd politician and he knew how to play to the galleries.

"Let this drone fly towards the back and see what rallies are," he said. "While MQM is holding the biggest rally in Mehmoodabad, other people are holding jalsi (small rally) in other parts of the city," he said in an indirect jibe at Saeed Ghani.

Earlier during the day, while speaking to www.samaa.tv over the phone, he had stated that PPP would be humiliated in the by-election.

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"You'll see how we humiliate them in this election," he said. "They are using the entire government machinery against us, spending hundreds of thousands of rupees. However, this will come to no avail," he added.

When asked if Kamran Tessori would be able to do anything since MQM habitually accuses PPP of not releasing funds for development work, Sattar shrugged it off.

"Now they will have to, you'll see," he said. "When people come in droves to demand their rights they will have no choice but to surrender to the will of the masses," he added.

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Back at the rally, an MQM supporter was curious regarding Saeed Ghani's rally which had just taken place. Upon being told that it had been a huge show, he smirked to himself.

"Of course it was a big show. They're using the entire government machinery against us," he said. "Yet you will see MQM prevail over PPP," he added.

Another supporter joined him and said that the party had played a vital role in the area to bring water to it. It was clear that his sentiments were more attached with the MQM than the face on all the party's banners--Kamran Tessori.

"Let me tell you why I would vote for MQM and not any other party," he said. "Whenever there is a problem in our area, our local party office-bearers knock on our doors and help us resolve the issue," he said.

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The same supporter scoffed at Saeed Ghani and said that his father had also tried to run twice from the area but had tasted defeat The two supporters were quite hopeful of Kamran Tessori defeating Saeed Ghani in the election.

When asked as to whether or not MQM's votes will be affected since a divide had occurred due to the party's decision to dissociate from Altaf Hussain or because Mustafa Kamal had stepped up his hostile opposition, the party supporters were adamant that nothing would change.

Mqm Jalsa Men Inserts PS 114 Khi 07-07

"Vote hamesha MQM ka raha hai (Our vote has always been for only MQM, not anyone else)," was their simple answer. "We are not a party of electables but a party which is backed by ideology and middle class supporters," they added.

Both parties claim to have the support of the masses and seem to be confident of securing the constituency after the dust settles. As campaigning officially ended at midnight and the two candidates wrapped up their respective shows, one thing is quite clear for all to grasp--this electoral fight is sure to go down the wire between Tessori and Ghani.

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