NA-244, a strange mix of the haves and have-nots

KARACHI: District East’s NA-244 comprises some of the most densely populated areas of Karachi. On one extreme, it includes parts of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, a locality infamous for high-rise apartments, and on the other, it touches equally crowded localities of Mehmoodabad and Azam Basti, that have remained neglected for years.

The constituency also includes some posh areas of the city lying in Ferozabad division. The famous Hill Park of Karachi and its adjoining areas of PECHS are a part of NA-244. A large area of Faisal Cantonment Board also falls in the constituency. KDA Scheme 1 which is considered to be one of the most expensive localities of the city also lies here. Residents in these areas are predominantly affluent and have access to most civic amenities.

Two children die in Karachi’s Gulistan-e-Jauhar fire

However, in the densely populated areas of NA-244, water and sewerage problems remain unresolved. Sewerage infrastructure is dilapidated in many localities owing to a large populace. Sights of overflowing manholes are common in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Mehmoodabad, Azam Basti, Kashmir Colony and Hindu Basti. Leakage in water lines and undisposed garbage are also a common sight in these areas. People of these localities also off and on complain about mixing of sewage water in water lines.

The constituency also features several higher education institutions, including Bahria University, Iqra University and Habib University. The popular dine-out areas of Dalmia and Muhammad Ali Society are also there in NA-244. Other notable places of the constituency include Maritime Museum, Askari-IV, NADRA provincial head office and PNS Bahadur on Karsaz.

A large number of localities falling in NA-244 are worst affected after rains due to improper drainage system.

The nullah of Manzoor Colony has been a dumping place for garbage for years due to which it remains choked and overflows after rains.

There is no public hospital in NA-244 due to which its residents rely on a handful of dispensaries for primary healthcare. The number of government schools is also meager, and they have dilapidated structures.

Despite being dispersed around high security areas of Karsaz and Faisal Cantonment, localities falling in NA-244 are not bereft of crime. Illegal encroachments are rampant all over the constituency. Even Hill Park was not spared by the land mafia and a significant portion of the park was illegally allotted. Street crimes are also common even in the areas adjacent to PNS Bahadur.

A total of 23 candidates are in the run for NA-244, who include some prominent names. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-Pakistan has fielded former provincial minister Rauf Siddiqui while Miftah Ismail, former federal finance minister, is the candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate is Ali Haider Zaidi, whereas, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan have fielded Mian Waqar Akhtar and Yashaullah Khan, respectively. The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and Pak Sarzameen Party’s (PSP) candidates have awarded tickets to Zahid Saeed and Saeed Shafiq respectively.

Before the new delimitation, many areas lying in NA-244 were included in former NA-251, which was won by the MQM in the last three general elections. MQM’s Ali Raza Abidi won the 2013 elections from then NA-251.

Victim of its own past, NA-240 likely to vote MQM again

The provincial constituencies falling in NA-244 include PS-103 and PS-104 after the new delimitation.

The provincial assembly seat comprising Mehmoodabad, Manzoor Colony, Chanesar Goth and adjoining areas have evaded the MQM-P. In the last by-elections, PPP’s Saeed Ghani was elected to the Sindh Assembly from these areas.

As many as 21 candidates are vying for PS-103, including MQM-P’s Tanzeel Bin Abdul Rauf, MMA’s Muhammad Junaid Makati, PSP’s Soofia Saeed Shah and PPP’s Muhammad Shahzad.

The PPP has fielded Ghani in PS-104. There are a total of 24 candidates in the run for the seat. A major challenger to Ghani is former provincial education minister Irfanullah Marwat who has been awarded ticket by the Grand Democratic Alliance. The MQM-P and MMA have fielded Khurram Shehzad and Zahoorul Haq respectively. MQM-P leader Kamran Tessori, who lost to Ghani in the by-election, had also filed nomination papers for the constituency. However, with the party not awarding him its ticket and he also not withdrawing his papers, Tessori is on the list of candidates as an independent contesting on the symbol of lock.

Three public varsities, two major hospitals based in NA-243

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