As explained the sheer number of national assembly seats from Karachi make the city very important in the country’s overall politics. The port city’s economic prowess makes it even more vital. If we take a look at the election results since the 70’s the Altaf Hussain lead Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has been dominating election results bar a few exceptions since its emergence in the late eighties. During the 1970 elections, religious parties, specifically the Jamaat Islami (JI) and the Markazi Jamiat-e-Ulema-Pakistan (MJUP), did quite well. The seats were closely contested, but the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) could only secure 2 out of the 7, and was runners up on two more. The religious parties won 4 out of 7, while the remaining seat was won by Maulana Zafar Ahmad Ansari – contesting as an independent candidate, backed by JI.
Then came the 1988 elections, the MQM had arrived by now and the party swept elections in Karachi claiming 11 out of the 13 seats, two seats were won by the PPP. Two years later in 1990, the PPP lost more ground in the city and was restricted to just one seat out of the thirteen available with MQM claiming all others.
The 1993 elections were boycotted by MQM, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) was the major beneficiary of MQM’s withdrawal and the party grabbed six out of the 13 available seats, the JI was victorious on one whereas the PPP equaled PMLN’s tally by claiming six.
As expected MQM came back in 1997 elections and once again claimed top spot on the leader board, the party won ten seats. The PPP suffered a major setback and could snatch only one with PMLN claiming two.
Then came the 2002 elections, which saw a mini revival for the religious parties in the city with the Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal (MMA) claiming five of the twenty seats in the city. PMLN was wiped out from the city, PPP claimed two seats, and one went to Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) with MQM maintaining its dominance in the city by claiming twelve seats.
The 2008 elections which are unanimously regarded as the fairest elections in Pakistan’s political history brought expected results in Karachi. MQM’s dominance increased further with the party claiming 17 out of the twenty seats, the remaining went to PPP.
The 2013 elections were a similar story the country’s three largest parties PMLN, PPP and PTI were restricted to just one seat each with the other seventeen seats going to MQM.
The purpose of presenting a short history of Karachi’s party positions over the past two decades was to show the undisputed status of MQM as the city’s most popular and strongest party. However, the MQM has suffered heavily in the past couple of years, the party is already falling apart with two main factions claiming ownership of the party, the MQM-London which backs Altaf Hussain and the MQM-Pakistan lead by Farooq Sattar that has went against the founder of the party. Mustafa Kamal, another former MQM big-wig has also formed his own political party the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP). The coming elections will probably be the first elections since 1970 that will see a large number of political parties competing for share of seats in the city. How the city’s political scenario will pan out in the next few months will be interesting to see.
MQM has been dominating electoral politics in Karachi since 1988.
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