ISLAMABAD: The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), which has mainly challenged the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in its bastion of power, the rural Sindh, in the July 25 general elections, has an interesting mix of known political characters, some of whom do not relish in a good record of winning polls.
The GDA is a kind of equivalent of a large battalion of contesting candidates with the election symbol of Jeep across Pakistan. It is no different from the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). The GDA, BAP and Jeep crowd have thrown down the gauntlet to major political parties, which have good prospects of getting most national and provincial seats to form or lead the next government. All these three forces, having analogous backgrounds, apparently enjoy support of the same circles.
Through the GDA, an attempt has been made to nibble at a major share of the PPP in the rural seats. If the alliance performed well, its gains bunched with the possible electoral strength of Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) may turn out to be a formidable crowd provided they all achieve their targets. Their success to the extent of forming government in Sindh, which seems to be an uphill task, will be a monumental accomplishment.
The leading figures of the GDA, led by Pir Pagara, who are vying for federal and provincial seats in Sindh, bring to mind their interesting backgrounds, which are not enviable, given their political past.
They include Irfanullah Marwat, Unnars, Dr Zulfikar Mirza, his wife and their son, Pagaras, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Ghous Ali Shah, Arbabs, Safdar Abbasi, Ayaz Latif Palijo, Jalal Shah (son of GM Syed) and Mehars.
The GDA has the backing of the PTI, and with the support of the alliance senior party leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also contesting a couple of seats in Sindh apart from its other ticketholders.
The GDA is the second political force the PTI has chosen to make alliance with. In Punjab, the PTI has quietly cooperated with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) in nearly half a dozen national and provincial seats.
All those winning under the banners of the GDA and BAP and independents having the Jeep symbol will rally with one political party in making the government only after squeezing a major share that may even include the prime minister’s slot.
The three forces have a striking similarity – they were put together with a clear plan. At the end of the day, they will tip the balance to gain power by the smaller groups.
Sindh has a total of 191 national and provincial seats – 61 federal constituencies and 130 provincial seats. The GDA has fielded only 28 nominees for the Lower House of Parliament while it has put forward 81 candidates for the Sindh legislature, the record of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) shows.
Its contestants for the federal seats are: Abdul Ghazi Bajarani (NA-97 Kashmore), Ghous Bux Mehar (NA-199 Kashmore), Allah Bux Unar (NA-201 Larkana), Faiz Muhammad (NA-201 Larkana), Ghous Ali Shah (NA-208 Khairpur), Kazim Ali Shah (NA-210 Khairpur), Zafar Ali Shah (NA-211 Noshero Feroze), Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi (NA-212 Noshero Feroze), Sher Muhammad Baoch (NA-213 Shaheed Benazirabad), Haji Khuda Bux (NA-Sanghar), Kishan Chand Perwani (NA-216 Sanghar), Mehar Ali (NA-217 Sanghar), Arbab Ghulam Rahim (NA-219 Mirpurkhas), Arbabd Zakaullah (NA-222 Tharparkar), Makhdoom Fazal Hussain (NA-223 Matiari), Muhammad Mohsin (NA-224 Tando Allahyar), Naeed Khan Barakzai (NA-225 Hyderabad), Mir Ali Talpur (NA-228 Tando Muhammad Khan), Hassam Mirza (NA-229 Badin), Dr Fehmida Mirza (NA-230 Badin), Muhammad Nadim (NA-236 Malir), Manzoor Ali (NA-237 Karachi), Muhammad Wali Shah (NA-238 Karachi), Tabish Hussain (NA-244 Karachi), Muhammad Arshad (NA-246 Karachi), Ghazia Ali (NA-247 Karachi), and Abdul Sattar (NA-249 Karachi).
Meanwhile, a total of forty-seven candidates contesting the national seats in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan preferred the Jeep symbol. In Sindh, twenty-four contestants got it; in KP their number is thirteen, and they are ten in Balochistan. As many as 65 competitors in Punjab have been allotted this symbol. Thus, their total tally all over Pakistan comes to 112 in the fight for directly contested 272 National Assembly seats.
The symbol evokes special interest as those who got it are considered aligned with a particular group, akin to the faction that had been given a similar symbol in previous general elections. It has always happened that those given the same election symbol mostly support en masse a certain candidate for the premier’s office. They usually back the prospective premier to make up the shortage of the members that the prime ministerial aspirant faces to clinch the top slot.
Prominent politician Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who also selected the Jeep symbol, has been displeased over innuendos hurled over him for getting this symbol. He has stated that he is independent in making his decision after the elections and will not be part of any clique.
In Sindh, the jeep symbol getters include Mir Salman Bajarani (NA-197 Kashmore), Akbar Khan (NA-198 Shikarpur), Muhammad Arif Khan (NA-199 Shikarpur), Shabbir Ahmed (NA-200 Larkana which Bilawal is also contesting), Liaquat Ali (NA-202 Kamber-Shahdad Kot), Naseebullah Siddiqui (NA-206 Sukkur where Syed Khursheed Shah is also a candidate), Amir Bux (NA-207 Sukkur), Nawaz Ali Shah (NA-208 Mirpur), Zohaib Ali Shah (NA-211 Noshero Feroz), Faraz (NA-215 Sanghar), Mir Hassan (NA-219 Mirpurkhas), Kanwar Kumar (NA-222 Tharparkar), Abdus Sattar Bachani (NA-224 Tando Allahyar), Abid Ali Shah (NA-226 Hyderabad), Ghulam Ali Nazamani (NA-229 Tando Muhammad Khan), Masor Ahmad Shah Shirazi (NA-231 Sajawal), Mumtaz ali Memon (NA-232 Thatta), Shuja Ahmad (NA-233 Jamshoro), Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Panhwar (NA-235 Malir Karachi), Muhammad Mureed (NA-237 Karachi), Muhammad Rafi (NA-238 Karachi), Bilal Hussain (NA-239 Karachi), Ahmad Ali Asif (NA-244 Karachi), and Sameena Sohail (NA-252 Karachi).
There is no jeep holder in NA-213 Shaheed Benazirabad that Asif Ali Zardari is vying for. In Balochistan, the Jeep symbol candidates are Khan Bugti (NA-259 Bugti), Meer Khan (NA-260 Naseerabad), Abdullah (NA-262 Pishin), Syed Mussawir Shah (NA-263 Killa Abdullah), Masoom Shah (NA-265 Quetta), Paind Khan (NA-266 Quetta), Taj Muhammad (NA-267 Mastung), Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani (NA-268 Chagai), Ataullah Dahani (NA-270 Panjgur) and Abdur Rashid (NA-271 Kech).
Surprisingly, PML-N president of the Balochistan chapter Sanaullah Zehri has also got the jeep symbol in NA-269 Khuzdar. In KP, those who have been allotted the jeep symbol are: Shehzad (NA-4 Swat), Mubarik Jan (NA-7 Lower Dir), Syed Gul Badshah (NA-11 Kohistan), Saeed Ahmed (NA-12 Battagram), Roshan Khan (NA-14 Mansehra), Muhammad Yaqoob (NA-15 Abbottabad), Fazal Akram (NA-18 Swabi), Navid Ali (NA-27 Peshawar), Roohullah (NA-30 Peshawar), Shamsur Rehman (NA-34 Karak), Ayub Khan (NA-37 Tank) and Husnain Mohiuddin (NA-37 Dera Ismail Khan).
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