Friends, former foes join hands in closely-contested Hyderabad

Close fight expected between contestants in district’s three NA, six PS constituencies 

Z Ali July 15, 2018

HYDERABABD: The results of general elections in Hyderabad have mostly remained predictable since 1988. Owing to the apparent ethnic division, the areas inhabited by majority of Urdu speaking community elect their legislators from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been wining from the Sindhi-dominated areas.

Only the general elections in 1993 and 2002 turned out to be somewhat exceptional for the MQM. The party had boycotted the former polls on the National Assembly's constituencies, allowing the PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to get their candidates elected on two NA seats of Hyderabad City and Latifabad.

In 2002, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal's (MMA) candidates defeated MQM on one NA and one PS seats based in Hyderabad City while the latter retained one NA and three PS seats. However, MMA's victory only became possible because of the PPP and some other political parties that threw their weight behind the party's candidates.

In the upcoming polls, we are likely to revisit the 2002 election results. However, this time around, some formidable political opponents have also zeroed in on the constituencies which have historically remained with the PPP in addition to posing a challenge to the rebranded MQM-Pakistan.

Close fight expected in PS-63 comprising rural Hyderabad

The district consists of three NA and six PS constituencies in its four talukas, including City, Latifabad, Qasimabad and rural. Hyderabad's population according to the recent census is 2,201,079, out of whom 1,049,586 people are registered voters, which is less than 50%.

City and Latifabad

Finding fault with the MQM-P for the poor state of infrastructure, civic services, health and education facilities and in fomenting ethnic discord in Hyderabad, the party's opponents are building up their campaign against it.

The challenge has mainly been thrown by MMA, PPP, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan - Noorani (JUP-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The PML-N, Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Milli Muslim League candidates are also contesting.

"We are contesting the polls without two former factors instrumental to our victory -

the party’s leadership by Altaf Hussain and the role of sector and unit offices," observed a Hyderabad chapter leader of MQM-P, requesting anonymity.

The party's critics say the MQM-P will not be able to cast fake votes the way they allegedly used to occupy polling stations in the previous elections.

PPP withdraws from Hyderabad constituency in favour of JUP chief

Among the two NA and four PS seats in City and Latifabad, the most serious race to the legislature is expected in NA-227, City. Two former MNAs, JUP-N’s Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair and MQM-P’s Salahuddin, besides other contestants, have landed in the electoral fray.

Zubair happens to be the only politician who overpowered the MQM in 2002 by beating its candidate for the City-based NA constituency. However, this was made possible by unanimous support to his candidacy by MMA, PPP, MQM-Haqiqi and several local groups.

That consensus, however, seems missing in the ongoing campaign as Zubair is contesting on the ticket of the party which he leads. The MMA has fielded its candidate, Karamat Ali Rajput, from the Molana Awais Noorani-led faction of JUP. Besides, unlike 2002, the vote this election will also be divided among the candidates of PTI, PSP and TLP.

The JUP-N and PPP have formed an alliance. Under this, the latter will support Zubair on the NA-227 seat and the former will back PPP's Mukhtiar Ahmed alias Aajiz Dhamrah and Muhammad Sagheer Qureshi in the City-based PS-66 and PS-67 constituencies.

Another interesting triangular competition is underway in PS-66 noticeably among MQM-P's Muhammad Rashid Khilji, MMA's Molana Abdul Waheed Qureshi and PPP's Dhamrah. Contestants from eight other parties, including PTI, PSP, Sunni Tehreek and TLP in addition to independent ones are also vying from this constituency.

169 ROs, district and regional election commissioners of Sindh trained so far

The MQM's Nasir Hussain Qureshi, MMA's Syed Farhad Ali, PPP's Muhammad Sagheer, Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek's (AAT) Muhammad Asif, PSP's Mir Attiqullah Talpur, PTI's Umaid Ali Junejo and Mohajir Qaumi Movement's Rashid Ahmed are among the candidates contesting the PS-67 seat.

"There are conspiracies under way to disrupt the rise of MQM-P but we have to scuttle these attempts through unity," said former MPA Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, who is the party's candidate for NA-226 in Latifabad.

MQM-P's Qaimkhani, MMA's Hafiz Tahir Majeed, PPP's Anwar Ali Sahito, AAT's provincial leader Faisal Nadeem Shaikh, PSP's Rashid Ali Khan and PTI's Jamshed Ali Shaikh are among the 14 candidates contesting on the NA-226 seat in Latifabad. Majeed and Faisal, both engaged in hectic canvassing for votes, are also expecting a win from this constituency.

If the anti-MQM-P vote is divided among so many candidates, Qaimakhani's prospects for a victory appear auspicious.

As many as 23 candidates are contesting from Latifabad-based seats in PS-64 and 25 candidates in PS-65. The MQM-P’s Muhammad Younis Gaddi, MMA’s Saifur Rehman, PSP’s Muhammad Aijaz Shaikh, PTI’s Ghulam Rasool, PPP’s Abdul Jabbar Khan and AAT’s Waliullah Panhwar are among the contenders in PS-64.

The contestants in PS-65 include MQM-P's Nadeem Ahmed Siddiqui, MMA's Syed Nasir Ali, PSP's Raheel Ahmed, PTI's Mustansar Billah, PPP's Sanam Talpur, AAT's Faisal Ahmed Khan and JUP-N's Talat Mehmood, among others.

Qasimabad and Rural

The PPP faces an identical situation in the one NA and two PS constituencies in Qasimabad and Rural talukas. However, a hitherto preventable division of vote among the opponents in NA-227 and PS-62, Qasimabad, may end up favouring the party.

Tough contest: Hundreds vie for assembly seats in Hyderabad

Syed Ameer Ali Shah Jamote, father of the PPP's candidate Syed Tariq Hussain Shah, was thrice elected from NA-227, formerly NA-221, since the constituency was created in 2002. His son is defending the seat against PTI's Khawand Bux Jahejo. Although, Grand Democratic Alliance's (GDA) Naheed Khan is also in the run from the seat, her own party wants her to withdraw, according to reliable sources.

"If she contest the poll, she will not only spoil the one-on-one contest between Tariq and Jahejo, but also damage the winning prospects of GDA General Secretary Ayaz Palijo in PS-62," a GDA leader, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune.

Initially, a tripartite coalition against the PPP was conceived for NA-227, PS-62 and PS-63. Under that plan, the GDA and journalist Ali Qazi's Tabdeeli Pasand Party (TPP) would have backed Jahejo. In return, the PTI's supporters were supposed to vote for GDA's Palijo and TPP's Qazi.

Currently, PTI and GDA are supporting Qazi in PS-63, Hyderabad Rural, against PPP's imprisoned former minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, whose son and brother-in-law are campaigning for him. But the PTI has not retired its candidate, Mehfoozur Rehman Ursani against Palijo in PS-62.

"At several places, we have seen Palijo and Jahejo campaigning together which suggests that even Palijo wants Naheed to retire," the source said. "But Naheed is hell-bent in taking part in the elections for some inexplicable reason."

Another vote split in PS-62 against PPP's former local government minister Jam Khan Shoro is being caused by Sindh Taraqi Pasand (STP) Chairperson Dr Qadir Magsi, who is also a contender. In a meeting last month, Palijo requested Magsi to withdraw but the STP leader instead insisted that Palijo should do the same in his favour.

The MMA, Shia Ulema Council, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen and some other local groups have so far announced support for the GDA in Qasimabad.



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