Sometimes going Independent is the winning formula
Everyone knows Karachi’s political parties and their faces: PPP, MQM, PTI, JI, PML-N. But there is another story, of the success of six men who stood as Independents and beat candidates from these big parties in the cantonment board elections held last week.
The elections for Karachi’s six cantonment boards was on September 12. A total of 350 candidates entered the fray. Out of these 110 were Independents who were not affiliated with any political party. Six of them won and their stories are worth telling.
Two of them won from Cantonment Board Clifton, two from Cantonment Board Karachi and one each from Cantonment Board Malir and Cantonment Board Faisal.
Babar Jamal emerged victorious as an Independent in Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) Ward 8 with 1,434 votes. CBC Ward 8 consists of Delhi Colony Nos 1 and 2, Madinabad, Block 8 and Askari Apartments.
But Jamal was not always an Independent.
“I left the MQM after General Elections 2013 because of its policies being run at the local level,” he said. “After that, I went to Raiwind for four months along with the Tableeghi Jamaat.”
Babar had been affiliated with the MQM for 15 years, which made his departure all the more interesting. He had served at different positions at the party level when the MQM was controlled by its founder Altaf Hussain and was in power in Karachi.
“I was active in my area and tried to solve the civic issues of the residents,” he said. He registered multiple complaints on sewerage and helped clear sewerage lines before the monsoon. “The area people know me. They saw that I am working in the area.”
Before the election, naturally, the MQM-P, PPP, JI and PSP contacted him and asked him to join them, but he chose not to.
Muhammad Jameel used to be a PTI worker and he had contested and won the cantonment board election on the party’s ticket in 2015. In those elections, the party whitewashed the Clifton Defence constituencies.
“Arif Alvi was elected MNA from the constituency in the General Elections 2018, but he had not visited the constituency since then and has not paid any heed to the area’s issues,” he said. “I was raised a voice over the issues of Defence-Clifton residents, but a particular PTI lobby did not support me and pushed me back.”
It was this lack of seriousness from the PTI leadership towards people that destroyed its vote-bank in the Defence-Clifton areas, he says. The PTI is now hemmed in to just two wards out of 10.
“There are two main issues in these areas,” Jameel said. “Encroachments and water supply.” The CBC Ward 3 consists of Phase-II (Extension) Commercial area, Golf Course Phase-IV, Phase-VII Baghban, Jami Commercial and Phase-VII (Extension).
Once he saw that the party did not seem to care, he decided to stand on his own. Now the PTI and PPP are both in touch with him to try to persuade him to vote in their favour for the vice president elections in the CBC.
But Jameel is clear: “I will take a decision in consultation with my voters.”
Another former PTI candiate who went his own way is Imran Khan who got the most votes in Ward 3 of Cantonment Board Malir. He had contested on a party ticket in 2015.
“I decided to contest as an independent candidate as I am not satisfied with PTI policies and no one in the area is ready to vote for the PTI,” he said.
He has been living in Malir Cantonment for 42 years and his father was vice president at the CBM for the last 18 years.
Even he has been approached by the PPP and PTI who are trying to get his support for the vice president elections. “But a final decision would be taken after consultation with my family,” he said.
The CBM Ward 3 consists of Cantonment Bazar, Malir Cantonment, Khairpur Line, Military Dairy Farm, Gulshan-e-Jami and Bahawalpur Line.
Haji Ayub Khan won from Ward 3, Cantonment Board Karachi but he has since joined Pak Sarzameen Party. He is actually a retired policeman and won the ward’s elections in 2015 as well.
“I like the ideology of PSP chairman Mustafa Kamal,” he said, insisting he joined of his own volition. But he could not explain adequately why he did not join the party before the election.
He explained his second consecutive electoral victory by the presence of a large numbers of voters belonging to the law enforcement agencies in the area. KCB Ward 3 consists of Police Lines Saddar, Sea Breeze, Army Flats, Lucky Star and Rainbow Center.
“I stay among the public regardless of any political party,” he added.
Chaudhary Nasir from Ward 2 of Cantonment Board Karachi and Rafi Chawla from Ward 3 of Cantonment Board Faisal have not been affiliated with any political party in the past and won their constituencies because of community.
Rafi Chawla and his father won elections in 2001 and 2015. “We have a strong community in the contesting ward,” he said. The CBF Ward 3 consists of Drigh Road, Cantonment Bazar, Karsaz, Dadabhoy Town, Falcon Tower, PAF Base and Azeemabad.
Even he has been approached for support in the vice president elections and he will either back the PTI or PPP.
Chaudhary Nasir has been winning cantonment boards elections for 30 years as an Independent candidate. His KCB Ward 2 consists of Assembly Building area, Court View, Rafiq Center, Paradise Tower, State Life Building, Askari Apartments II & III, Avari Tower and Dawoodpota Road.