Karachi has long been a contested turf. As the general election approaches, the turf wars toughen.
The city has witnessed major changes. The once mighty MQM has split into factions. The wave of PTI, which emerged in the 2013 general election as a force to be reckoned, seems to have died down. The PPP has made it a point to mark its presence in the city. And there’s also the party of former mayor Mustafa Kamal.
With so many stakeholders who lay claim to the contested city, who will emerge victorious on July 25?
Interestingly, all the parties have said that they will install their CM in Sindh.
“In the 2018 election, we will emerge victorious from across Karachi,” said PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto. “PPP will defeat that terrorist party.”
PTI chief Imran Khan plans to contest the election from Karachi. “The next term belongs to the PTI,” he said. “I will contest the election from Karachi and will fix the police as my first measure. We will give a perfect local bodies system to Karachi.”
The MQM, despite all the infighting, also has its hopes up. “In 2018, a CM elected from the cities of Sindh will for the first time take oath Insha Allah,” said Dr Farooq Sattar.
But the PSP is up for a challenge. “We will sweep on all the 51 seats of this MQM,” said Mustafa Kamal. “In the upcoming 2018 election, the Sindh CM will be from PSP.”
The Punjab CM has also set his eyes on the port city. “If we are given the chance to serve the people, I promise you that I will make Karachi another Lahore,” said Shehbaz Sharif.
Is MQM still a favourite?
The Awaz host asked MQM leader Ali Raza Abidi if MQM was still a favourite in Karachi. “You see, MQM is a symbol,” replied Abidi.
According to him, the party enjoys its clout due to the “exploitation” that Karachi faced at the hands of the PPP-led government in the past 10 years. “PPP could not deliver the development that was supposed to be for the people of Karachi,” he said.
According to him, another reason for MQM’s popularity was their demand for a southern Sindh province, which will be the party’s official slogan for the election campaign.
PPP set for gains?
The Awaz host asked PPP leader Shehla Raza if PPP will be able to perform better in Karachi as compared to 2013.
“We have completed work in Karachi on the roads sector at a cost of Rs8 billion,” she said. “Other than that, projects worth Rs10 billion are in progress. In 20 months, Rs16.5 billion has been given to KMC. You can see for yourself what their performance is. Besides that, health and education sectors have witnessed work like never before. Whatever we have done is there before the public. Now, it’s the people’s decision.”
Will the Khan conquer Karachi?
PTI leader Imran Ismail said he doesn’t think that the party’s vote bank in Karachi has disappeared. “You may not be able to see it this time like you did back in 2013,” he said. “We are trying to build it up again. Insha Allah we’ll succeed when the election approaches.”
“Who will take advantage of the vacuum left in the wake of a weak MQM in the city?” asked Iqbal.
“I think PTI is poised to do that,” said Ismail. “We’ll contest on all the seats. We believe that we’ll bag the major seats. We are considering three seats for Khan sahib – North Nazimabad’s NA-256, NA-243 that covers Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Bahadurabad and NA-247, which was NA-250 in the previous election, from where Dr Arif Alvi won.”
Does PSP have a realistic target?
“Your party is new, Anis Advocate sahib,” said the Awaz host. “Is your target realistic that the CM will be from your party? Can you get as many seats?”
According to the PSP leader, people have “now become aware”.
“Please save this recording from today and play it on the day when election results are announced,” he said. “We’ll show you that not only will PSP Insha Allah sweep the election in Karachi, but also from Sindh.”
“Will Karachi have a split mandate?” Iqbal asked MQM’s Abidi. “How many seats are you looking at?”
Abidi replied that there should be a “level playing field”.
“It shouldn’t be a situation when our offices are sealed and PSP, PTI and PPP offices are allowed to operate,” he said. “Or when our workers are being picked up and their workers spared. If we get a level playing field, we’ll win on more seats than we already have.”