KARACHI: The campaigning for the general election 2018 that concluded last night was one of the most lackluster, dull and unenthusiastic, partly due to the strict implementation of the code of conduct by the ECP and also largely to the public alienation from the politicking.
Similarly, this is also the first time that most people are cautious about disclosing whom they are going to vote for. Against this backdrop and coupled with the allegations of foul play and behind the scenes machinations by almost all the parties and the candidates have made the job of analysts predicting the electoral outcome, a bit more challenging.
In Sindh, the voting pattern and preferences are way different from other parts of Pakistan. Here the Sindhis, are sensitive about the integrity and the right to govern which was the biggest factor in 2013 for their vote against the PPP. They had also vented their anger against the dual local bodies system prevalent then. In 2018, while they are still angry with the PPP over lack of delivery and governance, but they do not see any viable political option to exercise their right to franchise for.
The mainstream PTI and the PML-N are Punjab focused and have given little or no attention to Sindh. The PML-N outsourced its election campaign to the Sindh governor, while the PTI left the campaigning to its Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who have both failed to penetrate, and in the end passed their burden of dependence to the few influential families and Pir Pagara to fracture the PPP base.
The PPP has dominated the Jacobabad district in 2002, 2008 and 2013 elections, but an interesting contest is expected on one NA 196 (Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani) and three PA seats of the district.
The PPP has fielded most of its old faces who may have an uphill task to perform due to the incumbency factor. The PTI is their main rival with the critical support of GDA.
The pendulum can swing either way on the D-Day.
In the neighboring Kashmore district the PPP is ahead in one NA 197 constituency and on two PA seats, while it has already won from one of the PA seats unopposed. We may witness a neck and neck contest on both the NA 198 Shikarpur I, NA 199 Shikarpur II and 2 PA seats of the Shikarpur district, while ex speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani is in the safe zone. The PPP is ahead on NA 200 Larkana I and NA 201 Larkana II and the two PA seats of this district, while they are facing a close contest on PS 11 and PS 13. A smooth sailing for PPP is expected in Kamber Shahdadkot district except for little resistance by MMA’s Nasir Soomro on NA 202 against Aftab Shaban Mirani and on PS 15 by GDA’s Safdar Abbasi against PPP’s Ghanwar Isran.
In Sukkur Division, some interesting contests are expected. Independent Ali Mohammad and his elder brother Ali Gohar Mahar will easily win from NA 205 and PS 20 of Ghotki district, while a close contest is expected on NA 204 where Khalid Lund has little edge over his rival Mian Mithoo. Neck and neck fight is expected in other PA seats of the district.
In Sukkur, Khursheed Shah is confident of his victory from NA 206 while PPP candidates on both the PA seats are set for a tough contest. On NA 207 Mobeen Jatoi is giving sleepless nights to Noman Shaikh. The city’s trader community may bail him out on the 25th. There is little or no headache for Farrukh Shah and Nasir Shah on the PA seats.
In Khairpur district, the PPP is confident to win NA from 208 and PS 26, 27 and 31, while ahead on NA 210, PS 28 and 30. An interesting contest is expected on NA 209 and PS 29 and 32 of the district.
Analysts are the view that the PPP’s Abrar Shah, Sarfraz Shah and Murad Ali Shah are ahead of their rival candidates on NA 211, PS 33 and 34 respectively, and to their surprise, GDA’s Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi is facing a close fight on NA 212 with PPP’s Zulfiqar Behan. The PS 35 is open for grabs to anyone and on PS 36 Arif Mustafa Jatoi of GDA is favorite. In Shaheed Benazirabad district PPP is favorite on both the national assembly seats, NA 213 Shaheed Benazirabad I and NA 214 Shaheed Benazirabad II and the respective two provincial assembly seats f PS 37 and 40, but faces competition on PS 38 and 39. In Sanghar the GDA and PPP are confident of victory on NA 215 and 217 respectively, while on NA 216 neck and neck contest is expected.
The Sarwari jamat of the Makhdooms of Hala, the Jillani jamat of Pir Noor Mohammad Shah Jillani could boost the chances of PPP candidate Shazia Atta Marri from NA 216 Sanghar 2. The PPP and GDA may grab equal number of PA seats out of total six from the district.
The PPP is facing rebellion from Ali Nawaz Shah and his son on NA 218 and PS 48 and 49 of district Mirpurkhas, who have the GDA support, while on NA 219 PPP’s Munawar Talpur is challenged by GDA’s Arbab Raheem. Interesting competitions are expected in the district with PPP candidates having little edge over its rivals. In district Umerkot the PTI vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi is contesting on NA 220 against PPP’s Yusuf Talpur. After the resolution of issues between Makhdoom Jamil Zaman of Hala and Asif Zardari and withdrawal of candidates backed by his Sarwari jamat in favor of the PPP candidates, the ground situation may favor PPP candidates in the district, though the GDA-PTI-Arbab alliance is set to show stiff contest especially after big jalsa by Pir Pagara.
In Tharparkar, the votes of Sarwari jamat, Jillani jamat and minorities would be crucial for PPP success in the district, which is facing the PTI-GDA alliance on all the national and provincial seats. After sorting out of the issues between the PPP candidates and aspirants, the PPP may prove many pundits wrong who are predicting victory for the GDA-PTI victory.
With 9 districts, 13 NA seats and 29 PA seats, Hyderabad is the largest division in Sindh. The PPP is ahead of its opponents in Matiari, Tando Mohammad Khan, Thatta and Sajawal districts, while it is facing tough contest in one Hyderabad rural seat, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Dadu and to some extent in the Jamshoro district. The PPP’s Makhdoom Jamil Zaman, (NA 223), Zulfiqar Bachani (NA 224), Syed Naveed Qamar (NA 228), Ayaz Ali Shah Sherazi (NA 231), Shams-u-Nisa Memon (NA 232), Sikandar Ali Rahoupoto (NA 233) and Rafiq Jamali (NA 235) are predicted as winners, while a close contest is expected between PPP and its rival candidates (PTI+GDA) on NA 225 Hyderabad-I, NA 229 Badin-I and NA 234 Dadu-I, while on NA 230 Badin-II GDA’s Fahmeeda Mirza is tipped as favorite for victory. On Hyderabad city’s two seats, NA 226 and NA 227, the contest is expected between MQM-P, PSP, PTI and MMA candidates. The polling day will decide whether the PPP will gain simple majority in Sindh assembly or not, while it is certain that it will gain most number of national as well provincial assembly seats from the province.