The curse of PS-114

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Shakil – a daily wager at cloth shop – swipes buzzing bees all the time. Though it is not the job he is hired for. He packs and repacks clothing. Again it is not what he is paid for. He waits entire day for customers. Every pedestrian walks by his shop with palm forced against nose. Sewerage Stream of Azam Basti stops just opposite to his shop and it is flooding as always.

Kachra Kundi, next to sewerage stream, dominates the road. Filthy garbage mixed with sewerage water leaves the road as narrow passage. One vehicle can pass at one time. Pungent smell coming out from dirt makes it very hard to breathe. Sludge beneath feet is so slippery that one could barely walk. Even four wheelers go up and down while plying on roads of Azam Basti. Same is the tale of adjacent areas like Chanesar Goth, Admin Society and Mehmoodabad. This is PS-114, the cursed constituency of Sindh Assembly in Karachi.

Dwellers – what else does one expect them to do? While almost whole country votes once in General Elections, they have voted twice in last four years. In 2013 General Polls, voters of PS-114 elected Irfanullah Marwat on Muslim League (N) ticket. Out of 186,000 voters, approximately 37,000 stamped votes for him. Soon after his victory, an application was filed in Election Commission Tribunal by his the then opponent Rauf Siddiqui (MQM). After hearings, High Court disqualified Muslim League (N) candidate. Irfanullah Marwat was not satisfied with the decision so he decided to appeal. Matter went into Supreme Court from High Court. The Apex Court maintained the same decision of disqualification. Ironically the final decision on appeal took time as long as 4 years.

After all of waiting, residents of PS-114 gathered their hopes another time. They believed this time they will be successful in sending their voice in assembly via representative. By-election held on 9 July 2017 and it ended with Saeed Ghani securing the provincial seat for PPP by almost 23000 votes. However, he could celebrate only for next two days and then the result was challenged by MQM Pakistan candidate Kamran Tessori in Election Commission. MQM established that poll was rigged and bogus votes were casted in polling stations of PPP dominated area. Once again, result is withheld and PS-114 is without voice.

‘Who should we blame for the abject situation of our constituency?’ asked Chai Wala whose business is declining.

‘Who should we held accountable for doing nothing for us?’ questioned a resident whose family members constantly falling ill due to pollution.

‘Who do we belong to?’ uttered a youngster who voted twice but received nothing in return.

There are countless questions awaiting answers. Those who are asking questions have exercised their right to vote not once but twice. Yet the constituency of PS-114 has no representation in Sindh Assembly. Only few months are left for upcoming General Elections. Will there be tri election in PS-114? If Saeed Ghani survives, will he be able to do justice with the confidence of voters in such less time remaining? Questions arise.

“Throughout their election campaign, leaders from all contesting parties called PS-114 as Mini-Pakistan”, recalled an elder of the town in his 70s, “but in this Mini Pakistan Muslims cannot go to their mosques sans crossing dirt neither Christians can visit Church without polluting their clothes.”

Fate of voters of PS 114 looms.

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