Karachi’s biggest constituency, NA-247, will have an interesting competition between several key players. Candidates to look out for include both party affiliates and an independent one. The earlier constituencies of NA-250 and NA-249 have been amalgamated to form NA-247. Key parties include Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and Pak Sarzameen Party. Lawyer and activist, Jibran Nasir, is also contesting from this constituency.
Here are three noteworthy players, their controversies, and their chances.
Dr. Arif Alvi
Party: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf
Highest Office Held: Member of the National Assembly since 2013
Things You Need to Know:
Dr. Arif Alvi is a dentist by profession and politically has been a member of the National Assembly since 2013. He won from the constituency of NA-250 in 2013. This time around he is contesting the same seat but under an expanded constituency and a different name. Dr. Alvi is also credited with the rehabilitation of the Pakistan Railways School in Karachi, which has earned him a more or less favorable repute in Karachi.
Most debates related to this constituency are around the issue of water management in the zones. The deteriorating water and sanitation conditions in the area have all candidates, including Alvi, scrambling to prove that their plan is best. Recently, PTI’s strategy was criticized for being too fancy and lacking in practicality. Dr. Alvi, however, has hit back at critics stating that they have not gone over his proposed plan in detail, to begin with.
Party: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P)
Highest Office Held: Member of the National Assembly
Things You Need to Know:
Sattar has had a long enduring affiliation with perhaps the most controversial party in Pakistan: the MQM. Weathering many political storms, Sattar has had his fair share of time in jail as a party loyalist as well. He was once considered the right-hand man of the infamous ‘Altaf Bhai’. However, Sattar dissociated himself with the notorious London-based leader following Hussain’s speech against the armed forces in 2016. He formed a separate faction, which now operates solely from within Pakistan: the MQM-P.
Despite having been affiliated with Hussain who is known for his goon-like “bori mein daal do” politics, Sattar is believed to have never personally instigated any violence or hate crimes. This public image and the fact that NA-249 has been an MQM (now MQM-P) stronghold, will certainly work in his favor.
Activist and lawyer, Mohammad Jibran Nasir, has been making waves on social media for his grassroots activism across Pakistan. He has gained a favorable repute amongst the masses as someone who struggles to get justice for the powerless.
Just yesterday, while at a political gathering, an extremist mob verbally attacked Nasir. They reprimanded him, asking him to vocally denounce Ahmadi’s as non-Muslims. Jibran withstood the mob mentality with grace, later announcing that this only made him stronger in his mission.
Jibran’s mandate is certainly one to look out for. He is challenging notions of power, which oppress the common man on a daily basis. Some unique features of his manifesto include strengthening student and labor unions, equitable access to the justice system by all, and a vociferous opposition to animal cruelty as well. Such agendas are seldom come across in mainstream political party agendas. Jibran is bringing a fresh perspective to democracy and elections, which makes him truly #HumMeinSeAik . You can read his complete manifesto, here.
Who Has a Greater Chance?
The main competition is certainly between PTI and MQM in NA-247. While Jibran Nasir is an ideal candidate for the people, he is new to politics and does not come with the political baggage one perhaps needs to win an election. He is one to look out for, nevertheless, because he is exemplifying what a politician should be; someone who serves the public and not vice versa.
Between MQM and PTI, however, the battle will be a close one. Dr. Alvi has previously won from the constituency. The only problem is that the delimitation of constituencies has brought additional land under the jurisdiction of NA-247. These areas are ones that MQM might gain greater votes from. Moreover, with the looming threat of Altaf bhai’s disastrous PR statements not hanging over Sattar’s head as party convener anymore, he might just be able to take the lead.