Monday Apr 26 2021
Web Desk

NA 249 by-election: Here's what you need to know about the constituency

Web Desk

  • NA-249 has a population of 782,776 of which only 339,591, which means over 43% are registered to vote.
  • PM Imran Khan chose this constituency to contest elections for the first time in Pakistan in 1997.
  • Since 2008 the constituency has elected a different political party to power in every general poll.

One election to watch this year will be the by-election in Karachi’s NA 249 — on April 29 — where the country's largest political parties have their most well-known faces in the fray.

But first, a little about the National Assembly constituency and why it matters.

NA-249 has a population of 782,776 of which only 339,591, which means over 43%, are registered to vote. There are 216,056 male voters in the area, while the number of female voters is 137,935.

Some well-known areas in the constituency include Delhi Colony, Mujahid Colony, Baldia, and Saeedabad, while the prominent ethnic groups in this working-class neighbourhood comprise Urdu-speaking people, Pashtuns, Kashmiris, and the Seraiki-speaking lot.

Fun fact:

Did you know Prime Minister Imran Khan chose this constituency to contest elections for the first time in Pakistan in the year  1997?

Imran Khan could only secure 2,037 votes from the area which, at that time, was named NA-184.

Here is another interesting tidbit about the constituency:

Since 2008 the constituency has elected a different political party to power in every general poll. In 2008, PPP's Abdul Qadir Patel won with over 56,000 votes.

In 2013, MQM’s Muhammad Salman Baloch clinched victory with 39,000 votes, while in 2018, Muhammad Faisal Vawda bagged the constituency with over 35,000 votes.

Interestingly, Shehbaz Sharif, the former chief minister of Punjab, who was contesting polls for the first time in Karachi, lost to Vawda with only 723 votes.

A candidate of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, which has now been banned by the government, ranked third in 2018 elections, with 23,981votes.

This time, on April 29, 30 candidates are in the running including PML-N’s Miftah Ismail and Karachi’s former mayor Mustafa Kamal.

But whoever wins, some of the constituency's unresolved issues remain unaddressed, including the lack of water and poor sewerage systems, broken roads, no government hospital in the area, and drug peddling.

Who was named favourite leader ahead of by-polls?

Ahead of the April 29 by-elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan has been named by voters of Karachi’s NA-249 constituency as their favourite political leader, maintaining an edge over PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif.

In two out of three polls conducted, PM Imran Khan was named as the favourite, while in the third, Nawaz Sharif was declared the most popular.

Ipsos, Pulse Consultant, and Gallup Pakistan released survey findings based on the opinion of 1,200 to 1,400 registered voters of the constituency.

All three surveys took place between April 10 and April 20, 2021.

Ipsos survey

In the survey carried out by Ipsos, PM Imran Khan was the most popular leader in the constituency with 20% of the respondents choosing him.

Of the remaining, 16% said Nawaz Sharif, 16% said Mustafa Kamal, 5% said Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 4% said Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, 4% said Maryam Nawaz Sharif, 3% said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, 3% said Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, 1% said Sirajul Haq, 1% said Asif Ali Zardari, 1% said Shahbaz Sharif, and 1% said Saad Hussain Rizvi is their preferred choice.

Interestingly, 18% said that none of the above-mentioned leaders is their favourite.

Pulse Consultant survey

In the poll by Pulse Consultant, on the question of preferred leader answered by constituency voters, 18% said that they prefer Prime Minister Imran Khan, after which 16% declared Pak Sarzameen Party leader Mustafa Kamal as their favourite, 10% chose Nawaz Sharif, 7% said Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 6% said Benazir Bhutto, 5% said Farooq Sattar, 4% said Pervez Musharraf, 3% said Maryam Nawaz and 2% said Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui is their favourite.

Gallup Pakistan survey

In contrast to the two polls, in a Gallup Pakistan survey, 20% of voters in the constituency favoured PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

Among the others, 19% declared PM Imran Khan as their favourite, 8% said PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, 5% said Pervez Musharraf, 3% said Mustafa Kamal, 3% said Fazlur Rehman, 2% said Maryam Nawaz, 1% said Shahbaz Sharif, 1% said Asif Ali Zardari, 1% said Sirajul Haq, and 1% said Benazir Bhutto was their favourite leader.

The remaining 22% said no leader among those mentioned qualifies as their favourite.

Favourite political party

Not only did PM Imran Khan get elected by respondents of two out of three surveys as their favourite political leader, but the PTI was also chosen as the preferred political party.

As for the respondents to the Ipsos Pakistan survey, 15% indicated PTI as their first choice, whereas 19% of those responding to the Pulse Consultant survey chose PTI as their preferred party.

Among respondents to the Gallup Pakistan survey, however, 19% chose PML-N as their party of choice.

All three survey companies have predicted a close competition, with the role of undecided voters as an important aspect to factor in. And with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan declared a banned outfit, the voter base will likely see a mass exodus of voters, as no candidate can contest under the TLP banner.