The constituency NA-246 needs no introduction when one talks about elections in Karachi. It reminds one of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) popular past. Interestingly, the seat gained more attention in a by-election in 2015 than in previous general elections.
After delimitations in 2002, constituency of Azizabad and adjacent areas was numbered as NA-246. Azizabad was the stronghold and headquarters of MQM. The famous “Nine Zero”, the residence of MQM founder, is also situated there, and the MQM’s machinery was run from Khursheed Memorial Secretariat, which is mere yards away from Nine Zero.
Within a 100-metres distance from Nine Zero was Jinnah Ground. Be it celebrations of victory in elections, political gatherings or funerals of workers, Jinnah Ground held its own social worthiness. A straight road from Jinnah Ground touches Liaquat Ali Khan Roundabout, which was famously known as Mukka Chowk. The monument of an iron fist was actually built in the memory of Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, and was considered a place of influence and political importance.
From 2002 to 2013, MQM won the home seat thrice in general elections with convincing victories. In 2013, MQM gave the ticket from their confirmed seat to Nabeel Gabol, who left Pakistan Peoples Party to join MQM. His romance with the second choice did not last more than two years, and he returned to his previous party.
There came a moment in the by-elections in which PTI — the already-established arch-rival of MQM in general elections of 2013 — announced to go head-on with MQM in NA-246. MQM named Kunwar Naved for NA-246 and was successful in retaining the seat. People of Karachi would never forget the election fever during the political campaigns of MQM and PTI. Imran Khan visited Azizabad along with his former wife Reham Khan, who was given gold jewellery as a token of hospitality from the MQM chief.
But soon there were a number of strikes by MQM and PTI workers as they manhandled each other during political rallies.
Ahead of the 2018 election, fresh delimitations were done by the Election Commission of Pakistan. NA-246 is no more Azizabad. Neither is Azizabad the political and organisational stronghold of MQM. But the significance of NA-246 remains as the constituency now includes Lyari — a political stronghold, but of another party. Lyari is home to PPP as Azizabad was for MQM. Lyari has Cheel Chowk as Azizabad had Mukka Chowk. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has decided to contest from NA-246 as well as from Larkana.
NA-246 will be in the news again in General Election 2018.