The Makhdooms of Hala crushed their opponents in the by-elections for their home constituency of NA-218 Matiari on Monday, recording the 13th consecutive victory from the area.
The national assembly seat had fallen vacant after the demise of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians’ chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim in November 2015.
Although the voter turnout remained low at around 30 per cent, the PPP’s candidate, Makhdoom Saeeduz Zaman, a brother of the late Fahim, obtained a massive lead over the five contestants in the fray.
According to the initial and unofficial results from 126 polling stations, Zaman bagged over 42,000 votes followed by Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen’s Farman Shah at 1,300. The count of the other candidates was still lower.
“We don’t have a contest here,” quipped the PPP candidate while responding to a reporter’s query at Government M G High School polling station where he cast his vote. “The opponents fought [in the by-election] without a sound reason. It would have been better if they hadn’t.”
Hala is hometown of the Makhdooms, the spiritual leaders of the Sarwari Jamaat that has hundreds and thousands of disciples. It was the general elections of 2013 that the constituency witnessed its first real electoral contest in five decades. Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Abdul Razzak Memon had bagged 72,423 votes against 95,724 of Fahim.
However, the by-elections on Monday were a sombre event. Major political parties opted not to contest the seat out of sheer respect for the late Ameen Fahim.
The PML-F, PML-Nawaz, JUI-F and influential figures like Pir of Bhit Shah Syed Waqar Hussain Shah, Muhammad Ali Shah Jamote, Raees Ali Ahmed Nizamani and Nazeer Rahu all supported Zaman.
Commissioner Hyderabad Kazi Shahid Pervez estimated the voter turnout at between 25 to 40 per cent in different polling stations after the first half of the polling time.
The election process completed peacefully at the 263 polling stations out of which 60 were declared very sensitive and 103 as sensitive. Some 2,400 policemen and 300 rangers were deployed for ensuring security on the polling day.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2016.