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July 14, 2018

Double whammy for PPP as candidates face rivals and disgruntled leaders


July 14, 2018

Although the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is optimistic that it will make significant achievements in the July 25 general elections in Karachi mainly because of the new delimitations and the internal strife tearing apart the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the party has been facing a tough time at the hands of its own dissident leaders in their strongholds who are contesting independently against its candidates in the general polls.

Following reports of resentment among activists over the distribution of tickets, the PPP has not tried to address their concerns or sort out their differences ahead of the upcoming polls. Analysts and party workers believe that the disgruntled activists’ decision to contest the polls against their own party’s nominees had split its vote bank and given an edge to their rivals.

The Lyari challenge

The PPP has been facing a huge challenge in the Lyari area of District South, where its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is in the run for National Assembly seat NA-246.

It is facing a challenge in Lyari not from any opposition party but from its own workers in Lyari who are contesting against its nominated candidates for two provincial seats – PS-107 and PS-108.

The distribution of tickets was also one of the reasons behind the recent stone-pelting attack on Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s July 1 electoral caravan.

The PPP has fielded Javed Nagori, its Karachi secretary general, in provincial assembly constituency PS-107, and Abdul Majeed Baloch, in PS-108. However, a group of disgruntled leaders formed a ‘Lyari Panel’ against the PPP candidates, fielding Habib Hasan, a party leader and UC vice-chairman, in PS-107 and Shah Jahan Baloch, former MNA, in PS-108. However, the Lyari Panel has been supporting Bilawal for the National Assembly seat.

Leaders of Lyari Panel claim that party’s local workers are not happy with how the tickets have been awarded and have therefore formed the panel just to save the party’s vote bank in the constituency.

Hasan said that they were PPP workers and because of the support and direction of party’s core workers in the area, they were taking part in the elections. “We are not against the PPP but we are there to save the party’s vote bank,” he told The News.

Also, in PS-107, the Kutchi community reacted strongly to the party’s decision to award a ticket for PS-107 to Nagori, who was close to Uzair Baloch, head of the Peoples Aman Committee.

Activists said that the PPP traditionally nominates a Kutchi leader from the constituency, which is home to various communities, such as Hingoros, Sonaras and Soomras. In the past, Ali Ahmed Hingoro and Saleem Hingoro have been elected from the constituency. However, after the rise of gangs in Lyari in 2009, gangsters extorted money from Kutchi businessmen and harassed the overall community.

District Malir

In Malir, PPP Karachi’s former president Haji Muzaffar Shajra and a district leader Nazeer Bhutto are contesting against the party’s nominated candidates for NA-238 and PS-91, the constituencies comprising the coastal areas of Ibrahim Haidri, Rehri Goth and Landhi Industrial Area.

The PPP has nominated Agha Rafiullah for NA-238 and Mehmood Alam Jamot for PS-91. Rafiullah, a former close aide of Haleem Adil Shaikh, has recently joined the PPP after leaving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, while Jamot’s uncle Shafiq Jamot was elected MPA in the constituency in the 2013 general elections on a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s ticket.

The PPP’s disgruntled leaders, Shajra and Bhutto, complained that they were denied tickets under pressure from their rival candidates who were newcomers in the party.

Shajra has made a seat adjustment with Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat chief Maualan Aurangzeb Farooqi, who is a contender for NA-238 under the banner of the Pak Rah-e-Haq Party. Farooqi will support Shajra in the PS-91 constituency in return.

Bhutto, who is also an elected member of District Council Karachi, is contesting for both NA-238 and PS-91 constituencies. “Instead of assessing their candidate’s position, the party leadership awarded tickets on the basis of favouritism,” he said.

Shajra and Bhutto have been spoiling the PPP’s vote bank in Sindhi-populated coastal areas in its secured constituencies of Malir, says Sami Memon, a local journalist.

Similarly, Amanullah Mehsud, PPP Karachi’s vice-president, has organised a protest rally for not granting him a ticket for PS-89, where the party has fielded Saleem Kalmati. Mehsud was elected MPA in 2008 on an Awami National Party ticket from then PS-128.

Instead of awarding tickets to various ethnic communities living in Malir, especially in its rural areas, the PPP has distributed the Malir tickets mainly among the Baloch and Jhokios, and because of this, rival political parties have been trying to gain the support of other clans in rural Malir. “It has also become a challenge for the PPP in the district,” Memon told The News.

Out of eight seats, the PPP has awarded four tickets to the Baloch – Abdul Hakeem Baloch (NA-238), Saleem Kalmati (PS-89), Raza Abdul Razzaq (PS-90) and Ghulam Murtaza Baloch (PS-88). Already, the PPP has made Jan Muhammad Baloch chairman of DMC Malir and Salman Murad Baloch chairman of District Council Karachi

District East

In District East’s PS-99, a newly carved provincial assembly constituency consisting of areas on the one side of the Super Highway, the PPP has been facing a challenge from its former divisional secretary general, Mir Ismail Brohi, who will be in the run against PPP candidate Shahab Burfat.

Local leaders told The News that the PPP had in the beginning fielded Lala Rahim, a union committee’s vice chairman, from PS-99, but after assessing that he could not compete with Brohi, the party changed its candidate.

Analysts believe that the split in the PPP vote bank can help PTI candidate Haleem Adil Shaikh.

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