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Karachi

October 21, 2018
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TLP not to support any party in NA-247 by-election

Karachi

October 21, 2018

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The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), whose candidate’s nomination form for Sunday’s (today’s) NA-247 by-election was rejected, has refused to support candidates of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).

The TLP’s Zaman Ali Jafery had finished runner-up in the race for the National Assembly constituency with over 24,000 votes in the July 25 general elections, hundreds more ballots than the MQM-P’s Dr Farooq Sattar. But the PTI’s Arif Alvi had won with a great margin of 65,000 votes.

District South’s NA-247 and provincial assembly constituency PS-111 were vacated after the PTI’s Alvi and Imran Ismail tendered their respective resignations. The former was elected the country’s president and the latter was nominated as Sindh’s governor.

After Jafery’s nomination form was rejected, the party announced that it would not participate in the NA-247 by-poll. The constituency comprises the affluent areas of Clifton and DHA as well as the lower-income neighbourhoods of Burnes Road, Kharadar, Kalapul and Neelum Colony.

Considering the TLP’s support base in Kutchhi and Memon communities of Burnes Road, Kharadar and some old city areas, rival political parties tried to secure the Tehreek’s help when they found out that its candidate cannot run in the by-election.

The MQM-P’s Amir Khan and Khawaja Izharul Hasan, the PTI’s Haleem Adil Shaikh and Khurrum Sher Zaman, and the PSP’s Mustafa Kamal and Arshad Vohra held separate meetings with TLP leaders.

However, the Tehreek excused itself from supporting the rival parties’ candidates as well as asked its voters and supporters to stay away from the polling stations, terming the entire NA-247 by-election process a “farce”.

“Our party’s central leadership has decided not to support any political party in the by-poll, and we follow that decision,” said Allama Razi Hussaini, a TLP leader in Karachi. He added that the party shall participate in the PS-111 by-election.

Analysts, however, believe that the TLP has little support base in the provincial assembly constituency that comprises upper-middle-class neighbourhoods of Clifton and DHA. The TLP has fielded Sikandar Agar in PS-111, where the party’s Tahira Kausar had finished eighth in the general elections with only 1,477 votes.

The TLP is an electoral front of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) that was formed to run a campaign for the release of Mumtaz Qadri, who was convicted and executed for the murder of the then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.

The TLP and its aggressive stance on blasphemy issues have attracted a significant number of like-minded people to the group. After succeeding in finding popularity among Barelvis, the group focused on electoral politics with the hope to become an influential stakeholder.

In Karachi, after the emergence of the TLP, Barelvi groups and local Milad committees have been supporting the outfit, considering an opportunity to revive the “Barelvi influence” in the metropolis.

The TLP bagged a significant number of votes in the July elections and won two Sindh Assembly seats in Karachi. But the overall performance of the party in the polls was poor.

Analysts termed it the start of the TLP’s decline in the city. Dr Syed Nawazul Huda, the TLP’s candidate for NA-243, secured only 1,542 votes in the October 14 by-poll. Similarly, the party managed to bag just 1,349 ballots in the PS-87 by-poll.

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