Attention: Sindh is up for grabs

Sindh is not as safely in the Pakistan Peoples Party’s column as might appear at first glance.

Farooq Tirmizi May 21, 2011
With all the national attention focused on the political battle over Punjab, it is worth pointing out that parties across the political spectrum would do well to realise that Sindh is not as safely in the Pakistan Peoples Party’s column as might appear at first glance.

Ever since the party was first launched in the late 1960s, Sindh has firmly stayed loyal to the Bhutto clan and one of the fundamental assumptions in Pakistani politics is that rural Sindh will always vote, by and large, for the PPP. In the 1980s, the MQM was able to peel away the urban part of the province, but not enough to form a majority in the Sindh Assembly.

Yet look closer and the PPP’s grip on Sindh is not quite as secure. Sindh initially jumped on the PPP bandwagon for the same reason the rest of Pakistan voted for the party: the raw charisma of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In later decades, the party was trusted in Sindh as the only guarantor of Sindhi rights at the federal level, particularly when Pakistan’s power structure was so heavily concentrated in Islamabad.

Sindh’s intellectual and emotional loyalty, however, has always belonged to the Sindhi nationalists. Go even into the heart of PPP’s stronghold in Larkana and you are likely to find more flags of the Sindhi nationalist parties than the PPP. Bhutto may get the vote, but GM Syed holds sway over people’s hearts.

The PPP keeps winning elections because the nationalists do not take part in electoral politics. But rural Sindhis seem to have had enough of the PPP’s poor governance record. And with the 18th Amendment to the constitution, Sindhis have less of a need for a party to protect their interests in Islamabad, since more decisions will be made in Karachi.

And then there is the interesting development: Sindhi nationalists seem to be somewhat more willing to make peace with urban based parties. What happens when Sindh’s intellectual leadership starts supporting a party other than the PPP? The answer is not as certain as it once was.
WRITTEN BY:
Farooq Tirmizi The author is an investment analyst. He tweets as @FarooqTirmizi (https://twitter.com/FarooqTirmizi)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (12)

Mirza | 10 years ago | Reply I have been a keen observer of Pakistani election results since 1970. It may surprise many people but whenever there were fair elections only one party won and that is the only party which can claim to be a national party. Whether one likes it or not it is the PPP. It has won no matter who was its leader or whether its name was forced to be PPPP or its symbol was changed to arrow. Not only that many people have left the PPP and died their political death. The most any PPP deserter could do was to win his/her one seat in national or provincial assembly. At the height of his popularity and charm, Imran Khan could not win much in any election. Not only the election results have always been just about the same but there have been safe districts for some parties and candidates. Even during the peak days of Mush (2004) PPPP won the majority of seats in the parliament despite all odds. It took ISI and Mush to bribe every PPPP member from lower Punjab to form Patriot group. Still Mush’s PM won by a single vote in the parliament. PPP has been dominant in Sind natives and lower Punjab. PML-N still would take majority of votes in the upper Punjab and large cities there. Be that as it may, PPP has become shrewder this time. They never contested election as the ruling party and the other parties were supported by ISI and usually united against PPP. With the seat adjustments with ANP in KPK, and PML-Q in Punjab, and possibly with MQM on some seats, it would be the first time that they would turn the tables on opposition. The only chance that TI would have would be from the Hazara area, if they can compete with PML-Q candidates supported by PPP. With Sharif burning bridges with most major parties, their alliance with TI would only show desperation on both parties. Last but not the least, Mush’s party on its own would not be able to win a single seat in Pakistan. His only chance would be to beg a safe seat from MQM, but it would be tough because it is allied with PPP.
AamirRaz | 10 years ago | Reply @Maleeha Khan: Well, you didn't know that? Don't tell me! Khair, these links might clear the idea: 1. http://9000yearsold.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/genesis-of-separatist-sentiment-in-sindh/ 2. http://www.freesindh.org/FreeSindh/SolvingPakistan.html --Peace.
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