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KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, often known as MQM-London and led by Altaf Hussain, has released the names of its “Wafa Parast” independent candidates for 80 national and provincial assembly seats in Sindh, two of which are in Punjab.
The decision, made public on Sunday night during a video briefing by MQM-Pakistan convener Mustafa Azizabadi, who is based in London, may potentially harm the organization’s future as it appeared to be depending on the likelihood of a MQM-L boycott.
The 2018 general elections were not attended by the MQM-L. Of the 21 NA seats in Karachi, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) secured three, the MQM-P just four, and the PTI fourteen. In later by-elections, the PPP increased their total to five seats.
This time, the MQM-P was targeting more than fifteen seats in Karachi and two in Hyderabad; however, the most recent announcement has put the party in a difficult position because it is widely thought that the PPP and the Jamaat-i-Islami may benefit from the division of the Urdu-speaking vote bank between the MQM-P and MQM-L.
According to reports, the identities were revealed at the last minute as a part of the MQM-L’s strategy. The organization has been under an unofficial ban since its founder’s inflammatory speech on August 22, 2016, which has caused controversy.
Out of the 22 NA seats available, the MQM-L has fielded candidates for 19 of them in Karachi, two in Hyderabad, and one in each of the following locations: Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Sanghar, Multan, and Muzzafargarh.
Candidates for 36 seats in the Karachi provincial assembly, five in Hyderabad, and ten in other Sindhi cities were announced.
Iqbal Arain, a candidate supported by the MQM-L, was picked on Monday from Hyder Chowk by Rangers and police in Hyderabad, according to his relatives.
When asked to comment on the MQM-L announcement, a spokesperson for the MQM-P said: “The nation stands with the MQM-Pakistan and its electoral symbol Kite and any support announced by any side to anyone will make no difference.”