KARACHI–The NA-246 battleground is heating up as polling day nears, with major contenders revving up their rhetoric. But there still appears to be a standoff between the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as both refuse to withdraw their candidates to favour the other.
JI chief Sirajul Haq on Friday predicted that Altaf Hussain will once again resign as head of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on April 23 (polling day), “but this time he will not reverse his decision”.
Delivering a fiery speech at a JI women’s wing rally at Shahrah-e-Pakistan as part of his party’s election campaign, Sirajul Haq said Karachi’s future will not be decided in London anymore; “the people of Karachi will decide their fate on the city’s streets.”
In an explicit onslaught on the MQM, the JI chairman said politics of fear and violence will soon cease to exist in Karachi. “People will reject violence and fear on April 23,” he said.
But as the JI prepares for a tough battle in a constituency considered an MQM bastion, the third major contender—Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — still believes there are chances the JI will withdraw its candidate in its favour.
PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, while talking to media, clarified that PTI is a much bigger force than the JI in Karachi and will not withdraw its candidate in NA-246 by-poll.
Earlier, PTI Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari on Friday said consultations with the JI are still underway and she expressed hope that the JI will cooperate with the PTI in the upcoming by-poll by withdrawing its candidate.
Talking to media personnel following PTI’s core committee meeting, Mazari said PTI’s campaign in the constituency was shaping up very well and the party has decided not to pull back its candidate in support of the JI.
But the JI had just a day ago reiterated it was not going to withdraw its candidate in any party’s favour for the NA-246 by-poll, rejecting speculation about their understanding with the PTI to this effect.
It is significant to note here that the PTI and the JI are coalition partners running the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, but have so far not been able to finalise an adjustment in Karachi, where both claim to have a fair chance of defeating heavyweight MQM.
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