Wednesday April 17, 2024

PPP not sailing smoothly in all non-urban districts of Sindh

By Imdad Soomro
February 08, 2024

The traditional stronghold of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in the interior parts of Sindh is facing a formidable challenge from a unified opposition alliance comprising the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and nationalist parties.

Supporters of the Pakistan-Peoples Party (PPP)  gathered around a truck. — AFP/File
Supporters of the Pakistan-Peoples Party (PPP) gathered around a truck. — AFP/File

According to a survey conducted by this correspondent, tough electoral battles are anticipated in eight districts of the province, including Jacobabad, Matiari, Naushehro Feroze, Khairpur, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Badin, Tharparkar and other pockets across the province.

For the first time in recent memory, the PPP candidates are to encounter a strong single contender in many constituencies as the rival parties have strategically fielded joint candidates to prevent vote-splitting.

Political analyst Professor Inam Shaikh believes that the PPP's electoral journey might not be as smooth as traditionally perceived this time as he foresees potential upsets in certain parts of the province.

In Jacobabad, former Senate chairman and former caretaker prime minister Mohammad Mian Soomro is vying for retaining his seat against Mir Aijaz Khan Jakhrani of the PPP in NA-190.

Local observers believe that the neck to neck contest is expected between the two but Soomro, who is contesting as an independent candidate this time (formerly he won on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ticket) has an edge over Jakhrani, due to the support of all the other parties, especially of JUI-F which has a large base in this area.

Besides Soomro has also the active support of the PPP’s disgruntled leader and former provincial minister Mumtaz Jakhrani.

In Khairpur district, Syed Qaim Ali Shah and his daughter Dr Nafisa Shah of the PPP, and Pir Sadruddin Shah Rashidi and Syed Ghous Ali Shah the GDA are among the prominent figures in the fray.

Dr Nafisa is in the electoral race against the GDA’s Ghous in NA-202. She is considered to be in a good position to win the contest against the GDA leader who has served as the chief executive of Sindh twice.

Sadruddin, the younger brother of Pir Pagara, is contesting the polls from NA-203 against Syed Fazal Shah Jilani of the PPP. He is believed to have a thinner edge over his rival candidate.

In NA-204, former GDA MPA Moazzam Ali Abbasi from Larkana, who has previously defeated Jameel Soomro, political secretary of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from Larkana, is contesting the polls against Pir Javed Ali Shah Jilani of PPP. Local observers say that tough contests are also expected on the provincial seats of Khairpur where three-time chief minister Qaim, Pir Rashid Shah Rashidi, who is the son of Pir Pagara, and Barrister Halar Wassan, who is the son of Manzoor Hussain Wassan, are in the electoral fight.

In Shaheed Benazirabad, the home district of former president Asif Ali Zardari, the GDA candidate in NA-209 is renowned Sindhi nationalist leader Syed Zain Shah. He is contesting the elections against the PPP’s Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah. A tough contest is expected between two Syeds. Zain is also the candidate in a provincial assembly seat from the same area and as per observers, he has clear edge on his PPP rival Ghulam Qadir Chandio, a former MPA from the same constituency.

In Naushehro Feroze, GDA candidate Ghulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi is in the fray in NA-206 against former MNA and PPP candidate Zulfikar Ali Behan. Tough contests are expected on all provincial seats of the district and another NA seat.

In Sanghar, which is considered among the strongholds of the Pakistan Muslim League Functional (PML-F) that is heading the GDA, Shazia Marri, Saira Banu Wassan and Mohammad Khan Junejo are among the prominent figures contesting the polls.

In NA-209, Saira Banu of the GDA is contesting against Salahuddin Junejo of the PPP. She is the wife of Kalimullah Wassan, a close aide to Pir Pagara, and is expected to give a surprise to Junejo, whose father Roshanuddin Junejo was elected an MNA many times from this constituency.

In NA-210 Shazia is contesting the local heavyweight and chief of the Junejo clan, Mohammad Khan. Local analysts expect a neck-and-neck contest between them.

"For this NA seat, no prediction is possible," says local journalist Housh Mohammad Mangi. He adds that tough contests are also expected on the provincial seats of the district between the GDA and PPP candidates.

All eyes are focused on the contest in NA-218 in Matiari where the chief of the Sarwari Jamaat and key leader of the PPP Makhdoom Jamiluz Zaman is facing Basheer Ahmed Memon, former FIA director general and provincial chief of the PML-N.

It may be mentioned here that the Makhdooms of Hala have never lost the elections from their home district. Local observers believe that it will be a very daunting task for Memon to win this National Assembly seat against the influential Makhdooms of Hala.

Memon enjoys the support of the GDA, JUI-F and nationalist parties as well as the MQM-P.

In the desert district of Tharparkar, former chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim is facing the PPP’s Dr Mahesh Kumar Malani.

Dr Rahim is said to have a thinner edge over his rival candidate. On the second National Assembly seat of Tharparkar, a close contest is expected between Pir Ameer Ali Shah Jilani of the PPP and Abdul Razzak Rahimoon of the GDA.

In NA-211 Mirpurkhas, Pir Ali Nawaz Shah of the GDA is being considered a favourite candidate over his opponent Pir Aftab Shah Jilani of the PPP.

In NA-223 Badin district, Mohammad Hassam Mirza may give a tough time to his rival Haji Rasool Bux of the PPP. This general seat was won by Dr Fehmida Mirza, the mother of Hassam, for the record five consecutive times. Both Dr Fehmida and her husband Dr Zulfikar Ali Mirza have been vigorously campaigning for their sons and other candidates of GDA. In the same district, according to the observers, GDA candidate and nationalist worker Ameer Azad Panhwar is in a good position in a provincial assembly seat.

Prominent nationalist leader Dr Qadir Magsi is backed by the GDA and JUI-F in Tando Muhammad Khan against the PPP’s Khuram Soomro.

A tough contest is expected in the constituency.

In NA-196 Qambar Shahdadkot, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is facing the JUI-F’s Moulana Nasir Mehmood Soomro. As per area sources, the PPP chairman has a clear lead on Soomro.

In Larkana district, which is a conventional hub of the PPP, GDA General Secretary and senior political leader Dr Safdar Abbasi is contesting against the PPP’s Nazeer Bhughio in NA-195. Observers predict a tough competition in this constituency. In the NA-194 constituency of Larkana, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is facing the JUI-F’s Moulana Rashid Mehmood Soomro. Observers believe that Rashid could get sizeable votes against Bilawal.

Rashid is also a candidate in a Shikarpur NA constituency where the PPP’s Shaharyar Mahar is his main rival.

In NA-192, a constituency of Shikarpur that has some portion of Kashmore included in it, Shabir Bijarani of the PPP has a tough competition with Dr Ibrahim Jatoi, a senior politician who has recently joined the JUI-F.

PPP candidates for the NA seats in districts such as Sukkur, Dadu, Jamshoro, Ghotki, Larkana, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Umerkot, Sujawal, Tando Allahyar and Thatta are expected to win comfortably. It will be a big upset if in these districts, PPP chairman Bilawal, Zardari, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Rafiq Ahmed Jamali, Ayaz Hussain Shah Shirazi, Syed Naveed Qamar, Nawab Mohammad Yousaf Talpur and Mir Munawwar Talpur end up losing.

Meanwhile, in Hyderabad and Karachi, the PPP faces tough contests.