KARACHI: Audience and speakers burst into laughter when moderator Zarrar Khuhro introduced independent candidate for NA-247, Jibran Nasir, as the ‘only umeed [hope]’ prompting the candidate to correct the moderator by saying ‘umeedwar [candidate]’.
Nasir and other NA-247 candidates were present on Wednesday at Panorama Centre-1 building in Saddar. As political campaigns gather momentum in the run-up to the elections, Karachi Youth Caucus – a youth advocacy forum – organised a town hall meeting of the National Assembly candidates vying for NA-247.
According to Nasir, what was needed in Pakistan was to ensure equal rights for every minority segment of society. Even a minority group, he said, should be given voice and that was what his manifesto was about. The independent candidate claimed that he did not want people to vote for him for his future promises but for his past five-year performance as a social activist.
The activist went on to say that candidates usually claimed that they would hold the corrupts accountable if they are elected to Parliament. “My manifesto is that when I’ll go to Parliament, I’ll first hold myself accountable,” he said, prompting Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan candidate Dr Farooq Sattar to clap.
Nasir also presented his 90-day plan, according to which after he was elected, one of his workers will sit in every union council of his constituency to register complaints of residents. The complainant would be given a computer generated receipt and a mobile application would tell what he had done to resolve the complaint in what time.
“Until there’s no healthy competition [among political parties], the blame game will continue,” Nasir said, adding that “we need to strengthen democracy through competition”.
Dr Sattar endorsed what Nasir had said. He offered that if Nasir won the election, he would help him resolve the issues of the city. “If I win, I ask him to support me with his secretariat,” he said. “Nobody is perfect, nobody has the perfect remedy. We need to work on a national agenda and think beyond defeat or victory,” he said.
Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Abdul Aziz Memon said it was not easy to ask votes from educated people. “They hold you accountable,” he said.
The speech of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Dr Afnanullah revolved around how his party helped restore Karachi’s peace.
Jibran Nasir press conference
Nasir also addressed a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday to brief media personnel about the attack on his corner meeting in Delhi Colony late on Tuesday night.
“Neither will we stop nor will we back out from our campaign as it’s our constitutional and democratic right,” said Nasir.
Nasir claimed that his opponents had started to instigate people to resort to violence against him after they could not have him declared as a defaulter and could not find corruption charges against him.
“I’m contesting elections for the provision of basic issues like water, electricity, gas and roads and to improve police and justice system,” he said.
Explaining the attack on his meeting, he said members of religious parties had been hurling false allegations to incite violence against him and his supporters.
According to Nasir, at every corner meeting of his, a few people appear and demand that he condemn a group, which he refused to.
“I have been questioned for treading on a path followed by the founder of the country, Jinnah, who struggled his entire life to get the rights for minorities while refraining himself to differentiate anyone on the basis of religion,” the independent candidate remarked.
The independent candidate claimed that his supporters who had volunteered to campaign for him were being threatened and their lives were in danger. He demanded the arrest of those who were carrying out a fake propaganda against him. According to Nasir, he had submitted written complaints to the police, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and returning officer concerned.
Civil society expresses concerns
Expressing her concern over threats to Nasir, artiste and activist Sheema Kermani requested the leadership of religious parties to educate their workers and supporters so that they do not instigate people to engage in violence.
Rights activist Anees Haroon was of the view that the parties that resorted to violence were weak. According to her, it was the responsibility of all the political parties to adhere to the ECP’s code of conduct.
Journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said we needed to learn to talk on bigger issues like freedom of expression, social justice, equality and human rights on which Nasir frequently raised his voice.
It’s a pre-poll rigging, said labour rights activist Nasir Mansoor. According to him, our last 40 years had been spent in dark and now when a ray of hope had emerged in the shape of a youth, extremist elements wanted to extinguish it.
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