Constituencies on ethnic lines opposed -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Constituencies on ethnic lines opposed

By: Habib Khan Ghori

KARACHI: Representatives of several political parties have supported the idea of fresh delimitation in the city to do away with constituencies formed on ethnic lines. However, the MQM has rejected the exercise, terming it an illegal move in the absence of fresh census.

Representatives of 14 political parties separately called on Pakistan Election Commission Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan and Sindh Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch here on Friday to present their points of view on the delimitation issue.

The meetings, held at the office of the Sindh Election Commission, continued from 10am to 9 pm with a one-hour break for Friday prayers and lunch.

In view of recent directives of the Supreme Court, the political leaders were asked to submit written suggestions on delimitation of constituencies within the parameters of the principles of the Delimitation Act in a week.

Most of the leaders said that constituencies which overlap with others or which were spread over an area of 30 to 40km could go through fresh delimitation.

The EC secretary told reporters that representatives of all the political parties, except MQM, welcomed the directive of the apex court and said that delimitation could help in solving law and order problem in Karachi.

Taj Haider of the PPP called for re-demarcating the constituencies based on ethnic lines in accordance with the universal principles of geography and contiguity and within the parameter of the act. He also advocated the linking of voters’ lists to the data of National Database and Registration Authority and registration of voters on the basis of their permanent residence.

Raza Haroon of the MQM said delimitation not based on a fresh census would be illegal and unconstitutional. The procedure laid down in the constitution should be followed, he added.

Bashir Jan of the ANP said constituencies in the city had been delimitated to benefit a particular party and gave the example of PS-126 whose boundaries were linked with four districts and where 350 voters from a house had been registered.

Mohammad Hussain Mehanti of the Jamaat-i-Islami said constituencies should not be based on ethnic lines as elections in such constituencies were “hijacked” at gunpoint through “Thappa” culture and change of ballot boxes. Extortion and targeted killing in Karachi were also the result of non-transparent elections, he said.

Salim Zia of the PML-N demanded the holding of coming elections under direct supervision of the PEC because in the past the SEC had failed to ensure free, fair and transparent polls.

Others who called on the officials included Jam Madad Ali of the PML-F, Dr Arif Alvi of Tehrik-i-Insaf, Haleem Adil Shaikh of the PML-Q and Mefoozyar Khan of the PML-A.