Debut of MWM; Can MQM retain its Karachi seats?

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: With anti-MQM alliance in making and Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM) making its electoral debut, it will become difficult if not impossible for the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) to retain its electoral position in the city, say political analysts. But the party said it is well aware of all these developments and well prepared to face these challenges with best election strategy it has formed. “MQM has it own dynamics, it has services for the city and it has its own political outlook so if free and fair elections are held, both the entry of MWM and emergence of anti-MQM alliance will not bar it from retaining its position” said Nair Jamal, a joint incharge of MQM’s information department, adding, party has delivered to the people and it has its own pledges that bring it a strong support of the masses. 

The Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM) if contested elections would definitely affect the vote bank of MQM in Karachi and that of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in Punjab, opined Professor Dr Tauseef Ahmed, a well known political analyst who has been closely observing the politics of Karachi for the last few decades. Professor Ahmed is, however, cynical of any strong anti-MQM grand alliance at this point, saying if any of PTI and PML-N allied with Jamaat-e-Islami in Karachi, the other one will automatically back out. He said there are many issues pertaining to seat adjustments among the grand alliance parties which still require time to come out with clear picture.

MQM which first made its electoral debut in 1988 got 11 out of 13 (85%) National Assembly seats and increased its success ratio to 92 percent in the next 1990 general polls by grabbing 12 out of 13 seats from the port city. The party boycotted next general elections of 1993 which gave PML-N a chance to grab six of the total seats. 

The party’s share cut down a bit when it won 10 out of 13 seats (77%) which further went down to 60 percent in 2002 when Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) became successful in getting 5 seats from Karachi which was one of the best performance by religious parties in the city. 

MQM regained its strength in 2008 elections partially due to split of MMA and subsequent boycott by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). It clinched 85 percent of national legislature share as it won 17 out of 20 seats from the costal city.

Jamaat-e-Islami, which boycotted the 2008 elections, is geared up while its alliance with anti-PPP and MQM parties will give it further benefit during the 11 May general polls, said Zia Ur Rehman, a Karachi based political analyst and author of the “Karachi in Turmoil” who thinks the emergence of MWM and ASWJ, both sectarian political clicks, on electoral front will certainly cut down the votes of their previous beneficiaries.

“If the MWM is going to affect the votes of MQM and PPP, the ASWJ will divide the voters of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F, especially on the PS-128 a Landhi seat from where the ASWJ leader, Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, is contesting elections” he said. 

Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen has fielded 14 candidates for National Assembly and Sindh Assembly from Karachi. The party is confident it will make its way to the legislature to raise voice for the community which has been exploited and targeted. 

Talking to The Frontier Post, spokesman of MWM Karachi, Ali Ahmar, said the parties especially MQM, PPP and PML-N while enjoying the votes of 5 crore Shias have never protected them from the brunt of terrorism against them.

MWM is contesting elections from NA-250, NA-239, NA-252,NA- 253,NA- 257 and 258 besides running for the PS-102, PS-118, PS-94, PS-107, PS-117, PS-119, PS-126 and PS-127, he informed.

Ahmar is confident that his party will win the elections on most of the seats as it has chosen only those seats where it has strong vote bank. PS-117, PS-127 and PS-126, the later also having Abbas town and Hussain Hazara Goth in its limits, have whole localities of Shia and they will vote for MWM, maintained Ahmar. “We also have strong chances of wining NA-252 and NA-253”, he claimed.

We will also win from NA-250 as nearly the whole phase-4 of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has Shia inhabitants while there are over 750 houses in other phases of the same constituency who will support the Shia candidate, said Ahmar while citing a sit-in in front of the Bilawal House against Quetta carnage which was staged by a large number of residents of the DHA.

When asked as MQM shared a common stance over the act of terrorism including those against Shia, Ahmar said MQM could not support Shia despite being in the government for the last five years while Shia had been playing a major role in electing its candidates to the national and provincial legislatures.

“A group under a certain banner will grab some of the votes and it can certainly leave negative impact over MQM but given the services rendered by MQM for the people of the city and its best election strategy, such group may not become successful” said MQM’s Nasir Jamaal, adding, the one Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jafaria (TNFJ) with better grounds as compared to Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen could not attain success in the past.

He said Taliban were openly threatening MQM due to its strong opposition and protest over the acts of terrorism including those in which the people of Shia community had been targeted. 

MQM is well prepared and we have made an election strategy keeping in mind all these factors, said Jamal.


Author: Naimat

Karachi based journalist, writing on national and international issues.

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