Pakistan People’s Party has won most elections in Sindh, mainly from rural areas. The party is still in a position to form a government in the province, although an influential electoral alliance against it has emerged as key challenger in some constituencies.
Also, the province’s two main cities used to faithfully vote for the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), but this time results may be different: mainly because of the ongoing crackdown on the political party, a split among the MQM factions, and new delimitations of constituencies.
Despite the fact that there is widespread criticism against PPP’s poor governance in the province, there are a number of reasons why the PPP still has an upper hand in rural Sindh. Political analysts believe it is mainly because of the absence of a political alternative in the province and tribal and family influences of many PPP candidates in their respective areas.
Successfully wooing all its foes from rival political parties, especially Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the PPP has skillfully accommodated ‘electable’ tribal chieftains, shrine families and party’s leaders by dividing National and Sindh Assembly seats among them. They include Thatta’s Shirazis, former PML-F lawmakers, Imtiaz Shaikh (Shikarpur), Jam Madad Ali (Sanghar) and Mohammad Ali Shah Jamot (Matiari), former PML-N Sindh president Ismail Rahu (Badin). The party has also created divisions within influential families, such as Arbabs of Tharkparkar and Mahars of Ghotki, by bringing some of their members into PPP’s fold.
However, the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), a conglomerate of various political and sub-nationalist parties and political stalwarts, poses serious threats to the PPP in some constituencies.
Led by the PML-F chief, Pir Pagara, the GDA consists of political leaders, including former chief ministers: Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Mumtaz Bhutto and Syed Ghous Ali Shah, Sindh United Party chief, Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, Qaumi Awami Tehreek chief Ayaz Latif Palijo, former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza and his wife Fahmida Mirza, Larkana’s Safdar Abbasi and Naheed Khan and former federal minister Ghaus Baksh Mehar.
In some districts, the GDA has made an electoral alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and their talks are going on with the MQM. Also a few former PPP members, who were denied tickets, such as former irrigation minister, Jam Saifullah Dharejo, have made alliance with the GDA.
In 2013 general elections, the PPP managed to win 33 out of a total of 61 National Assembly seats of Sindh. The party has been facing serious challenges on 18 National Assembly seats. Similarly, the party has won 69 out of 130 provincial seats and most of the seats were from eleven districts of Sukkur, Larkana and Shaheed Benazirabad division, where the party had managed to win 36 out of a total of 46 seats. However, PPP has been facing tough competition in nine districts, except Qambar Shahdadkot and Shaheed Benazirabad.
In Northern Sindh, the PPP also faces a challenge from political stalwarts. In Jacobabad district’s NA-196 constituency, PPP’s Aijaz Jhakrani is in tough competition with former Senate chairman, Muhammad Mian Soomro who holds the PTI ticket and is backed by the GDA. In Kashmore’s NA-197, PPP’s Ahsanur Rehman Mazari is contesting against GDA’s Abdul Ghani Bijarani and MMA’s Sardar Shamsher Mazari.
In Shikarpur’s NA-198, PPP’s Abid Bhayo is contesting against an independent candidate and former lawmaker, Abid Jatoi and MMA’s Abdullah Pahore while NA-199 is a stronghold of GDA’s Ghous Baksh Mehar, who has been winning the constituency in every poll since 1997. The PPP has fielded Zulfiqar Kumario against him.
PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is contesting from his family’s traditional constituency, Larkana’s NA-200, from where the MMA’s Allama Rashid Mehmood Soomro, backed by GDA, Larkana Awami Ittehad and PTI, are contesting against him.
From NA-202, PPP’s Khursheed Junejo is contesting against GDA’s Allah Baksh Unar. In Kambar Shahdadkot’s both NA-202 and NA-203, PPP’s candidates — Aftab Shaban Mirani and Amir Ali Magsi — are in a strong position.
This time, in Sukkar division, several candidates are contesting on seven National and 15 Provincial Assembly seats in Ghotki, Sukkar and Khairpur districts. In Ghotki, where the PPP won most seats in 2013, the PPP is in hot water after the influential Mahar family drifted away from the party. Now Ali Gohar Mahar, the leader of the family, is contesting on three out of four constituencies and in one constituency, PS-20, he is fighting against his own brother Ali Nawaz Mahar, who is a PPP ticket holder.
In Sukkur district, PPP’s candidates are in a position to win easily on most seats. From district’s two constituencies — NA-206 and NA-297 — PPP’s Syed Khursheed Shah and Noman Islam Shaikh are contesting against PTI’s Tahir Shah and Mobin Jatoi respectively.
In PS-21, PPP’s Ali Nawaz Mahar is contesting against Dharejo, a PPP former provincial minister, who has joined JUI-F after not getting party ticket. From PS-24, Sukkar’s urban seat which was won by MQM in 2013, PPP has fielded Farrukh Shah, Khurshid Shah’s son, who is facing MQM’s Shafiq Kamboh and GDA’s Shafqat Shah.
In Khairpur district, a tough competition is expected between PPP’s Nafisa Shah and GDA’s Ghaus Ali Shah in NA-208 while in NA-210, PPP’s Javed Shah Jilani will contest against GDA’s Kazim Shah. From NA-209, PML-F Pir Sadaruddin Shah has been winning since 2002 general polls.
In Naushehro Feroze district’s two constituencies, the PPP has fielded Syed Abrar Ali Shah from NA-211 and Zulfiqar Ali Behan from NA-212 against GDA’s Zafar Ali Shah and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi respectively.
In Shaheed Benazirabad district, PPP’s co-chairperson, Asif Ali Zardari, and Ghulam Mustafa Shah are in a strong position to win from NA-213 and NA-214 respectively. In Sanghar district, a traditional PML-F stronghold, PPP has made inroads and is in a position to challenge the GDA candidates.
In Mirpurkhas NA-218, a PPP dissenter and former provincial minister, Ali Nawaz Shah, is contesting as an independent candidate with the backing of GDA where PPP’s Hasan Ali Shah is contesting against him. In NA-219, there is a tough competition between PPP’s Nawab Munawar Talpur and GDA’s Arbab Ghulam Rahim.
GDA has announced its support for PTI’s vice chairman, Shah Mehmood Qureshi in NA-220 (Umerkot) and NA-221 (Tharparkar) where he is contesting against PPP’s Nawab Yousuf Talpur and Pir Noor Muhamamd Jilani respectively. From Tharparkar’s NA-222, PPP has chosen Dr Mahesh Milani to run against GDA’s Arbab Zakaulah.
PPP’s Makhdoom Jameeluz Zaman and Zulfiqar Sattar Bachani are in a strong position to win NA-223 (Matiari) and NA-224 (Tando Allah Yar).
In Hyderabad’s NA-225, PPP’s Syed Hussain Tariq, son of former MNA Ameer Ali Shah Jamot, faces PTI’s Khawand Baksh Jahejo while in NA-226, Ali Muhammad Sahto of the PPP is competing against MQM’s Aamir Shafiq.
After realising that it would be difficult to win NA-227 from the MQM, the PPP withdrew its candidate, Irfan Gul Magsi, in favour of Jamiat- Ulema Pakistan chief, Sahibzada Abul Khair Zubair. The MQM has fielded Salahuddin from the constituency.
From NA-228 (Tando Muhammad Khan), PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar is in a strong position. But in Badin’s both National Assembly constituencies, the PPP is facing a severe competition from Mirza family, who is now part of the GDA. Fahmida Mirza, former speaker National Assembly, is contesting against PPP’s Rasool Bakhs Chandio in NA-230 while her son Hasnain Mirza is fighting against Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur in NA-229.
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After the inclusion of Shirazis in the PPP, now Syed Ayaz Ali Shah Shirazi is PPP’s candidate from NA-231 (Sajawal). Shirazi had won the constituency in 2013 as an independent candidate. From NA-232 (Thatta), PPP’s Shamsun Nisa Memon is also in a strong position. But in NA-233 (Jamshoro), PPP’s candidate Sikander Rahupoto is contesting against Jalal Mehmood Shah, Sindh United Party’s chief and grandson of G.M. Syed. The SUP is also part of the GDA.
In 2013, the PPP won both of Dadu’s National Assembly seats but after former chief minister Liaquat Jatoi joining the PTI, it is in a position to give a tough time to PPP’s candidates. Liaquat Jatoi is contesting against PPP’s Irfan Zafar Leghari from NA-234 while from NA-235; PPP’s Sardar Rafiq Ahmed Jamali is facing PTI’s Abdul Karim Jatoi.
Out of Karachi’s 21 National Assembly seats, PPP is in a position to gain five national seats — thanks to new delimitations and MQM’s inner crisis — from Sindh and Baloch populated neighbourhoods. The MQM is in a position to retain its seats from the Mohajir populated districts where PTI’s chief, Imran Khan and PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif are also likely to win.