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EDITORIAL: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement–Pakistan (MQM-P) is at loggerheads with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in Sindh, accusing it of gerrymandering constituency delimitations in Karachi and Hyderabad for the second phase of local government elections scheduled for January 15.

At a hurriedly called presser, the party convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said unfair delimitations had created haphazard constituencies, which will serve vested interests.

The MQM-P being a partner in the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition at the Centre, he asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as guarantor of the Charter of Rights the MQM-P had signed with the PPP last April to intervene, threatening to part ways in case of no response.

The PM quickly formed a delegation headed by Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who later told Dr Siddiqui that his team would do its level best to address MQM-P’s concerns.

The party appears to have a valid objection over the delimitation issue, pointing out that while one constituency comprises just 30,000 voters, a neighbouring unit has over 100,000 voters.

However, demarcation of constituencies is the job of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), why then accuse the Sindh government of constituency manipulation or seek the PM’s intervention? Although Dr Siddiqui also vowed to approach the courts and the ECP for “justice”, the decision to seek redress from the PDM government suggests the party is calling for help from certain other quarters believed to be busy in their usual game of political engineering — this time aimed at damaging the PTI’s electoral prospects.

The MQM under its founder Altaf Hussain had dominated the scene in urban Sindh. After a ban on his political activities, the MQM-P broke into several factions losing its vote bank in Karachi to the PTI. Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori is now said to have been assigned the task of bringing the different MQM groups together under the banner of MQM-P.

He has been holding meetings with Dr Farooq Sattar, Mustafa Kamal and some others. It may not be easy though to resolve the leadership question. Even if it is settled, no one in a reincarnated MQM would have the ability to win back the lost vote bank.

Sadly, thanks to the games the establishment has been playing with power politics, Pakistan is always passing through a ‘critical phase’. At present, political uncertainly, arguably the result of such a move, has sent the economy into a tailspin.

Yet no lesson seems to have been learnt from past experiences. Artificial alliances are once again being cobbled together and compliant individuals inducted in other major parties to leave the now out-of-favour PTI in the cold.

One wonders what it will take to put a stop to contrived constructs. The country badly needs political stability which can come only when the people have the freedom to exercise their constitutional right to decide who should represent them in the provinces and at the Centre.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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