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The broken shackles of fear

Just after the fiasco of Islamabad game, we witnessed the dramatic rising temperature in the politics of state’s economical hub, Karachi and urban Sindh. Out of the blue, Nabil Gabol came out against his newly joined-political party – MQM, inculpated the party that he was receiving life threats within the rank of MQM. As expected, in last week of February, Gabol resigned from the party and NA-246 constituency had joined the marathon of by-polls. There-after Gabol’s resignation, ECP announced the by-elections on a National Assembly seat, NA-246.

It was the start of March, Wednesday’s morning, Rangers contingents raided MQM’s headquarter Nine Zero and claimed to take notorious criminals into the custody. Amir Khan, MQM’s central leader was also detained by Rangers, handcuffed and blindfolded Amir Khan was produced as ‘war criminal’ in anti-terror court. Everyone was anticipating the end of Altaf Hussain’s MQM but Karachi was calm. Smear media campaign had been kicked-off just after Gabol’s departure but all these emerged with momentum following ‘nine zero’ raid. Political parties, especially, PTI and JI launched their elections’ drive in the same span by mudslinging MQM.

In advance of election’s day, when campaigns were being made headway; it was being stirred up that MQM would lose from its home ground. Surprisingly, MQM’s mouthpieces were also envisaging the washout in the wake of Rangers’ connections with NA-246 show of hands. At last, MQM’s spokesmen said in a presser that PTI is trying to snatch party’s mandate at the behest of establishment. Whilst, PTI and JI were claiming, they would white-wash MQM easily.

Contrary to all, in the face of rigorous political isolation and joint-investigation reports (JITs), someone was seemed ‘unflappable’. Yes, he was Altaf Hussain who had divulged the landslide victory in NA-246, two weeks before voting. On the other side, Rangers demanded election commission to install cameras in the polling stations. It was the first ever time in the history of Pakistan’s elections that cameras were installed in the polling stations. Law enforcers were deployed in the polling stations; and ballot boxes were transferred to polling station by Pakistan army personnel.

On 18th April, Altaf Hussain roared with gargantuan procession near Karimabad. MQM claimed that it was the biggest ever show of public power in the history of Karachi. Regardless of political quarantine, Altaf Hussain envisioned record winning; he was calling people to signify common man’s power in upcoming polls. On the day of election, people came out from their homes and MQM clinched record by pocketing ‘95,644’ votes. According to the stats, it was the highest ever votes in the history of Pakistan by-elections. In 2013 by-elections, PML-N’s Obaidullah Shadikhel secured ‘95,210’ votes from NA-71, Imran Khan’s home ground.

The difference between MQM and PTI vote numbers was more than 70,000 votes with 36.72 percent turnout. More than 72% votes were cast in the favor of MQM, 18.8% votes for PTI while JI could get 6.89% votes.

NA-246 voting stats – Photo by Ammad Hafeez

It was not the end of MQM’s winning streak, on 25th April, cantonment board elections were held across the country in 199 wards. Notwithstanding, MQM emerged as the single-largest political party of Sindh in the cantonment board polls. Out of 44 wards; MQM grabbed the most 19 wards and pulled off first position in the race. The shocking part, none of any political party could seal on second position and independent candidates secured the seconding position with 8 wards. Sindh’s ruling political party, PPP could manage to lock third position with 6 wards. Whilst, the PML-N grappled 5 wards, the PTI bagged 4 wards and the JI pocketed 2 wards only. When we categorize the poll’s results in percentile ranking then we reckon; MQM – 43.1%, PPP – 13.6%, PML-N – 11.3%, PTI – 9% and JI – 4.5%.

Sindh’s cantonment board results – Ammad Hafeez

There are eight cantonment boards in Sindh, and MQM is the single political party which can confirm its vice presidents in three cantonment boards (Hyderabad, Faisal and Karachi) out of eight without making alliance with any political party.

Bottom line:

Now, the prevailing perception should be scrapped that MQM enjoys the mandate in urban Sindh on the barrel of gun. It should also be adhered to the notion that political parties cannot be repressed with an iron fist especially such political parties which have origins in common people. The Karachi’s experiment has spilt the beans on that whenever has state-operation been sparked against MQM; it reinforced MQM in the urban Sindh. I infer, MQM couldn’t secure nearly 1 lac votes in the by-polls and couldn’t even manage to clean sweep Sindh’s cantonment board elections, if nine zero was not raided and smear campaigns were not being televised. When, we go over MQM’s performance, we see; MQM didn’t start any prominent development works in urban Sindh in spite of that how it could manage to get landslide victory in NA-246 and Sindh cantonment board elections? Though, MQM has complained numerous times that funds aren’t issued for the city. In other news, Imran Khan has also accepted MQM’s mandate in Karachi last week.

A little while back, MQM has been dubbed as RAW-backed political party, again. Such allegations has invigorated the party in past too. What do you think, if local bodies’ election to be held in this year then will MQM be victorious with record mandate in Sindh despite RAW agent stamp? You can submit your answer in comment section.

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