Upset in Ghotki as kingpin loses seat to nephew

Mohammad Bux Mahar of PPP secured 89,359 votes against the PTI-backed independent candidate who bagged 70,848 votes

Hafeez Tunio July 25, 2019
Members of PPP celebrated their victory and termed it a "historic triumph.". PHOTO: online

KARACHI: As Mahar family of Khangarh remained politically divided, with two of its members contesting over the NA-205 seat in Ghotki by-poll, its "kingpin" Ali Gohar Mahar suffered a big blow with his candidate losing in his "stronghold" on Wednesday night.

According to the results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) candidate, Mohammad Bux Mahar, secured 89,359 votes against the independent candidate, Ahmed Ali Khan Mahar, who bagged 70,848 votes. Ahmed was backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).

The seat had fallen vacant after the death of former federal minister for narcotics, Ali Mohammad Mahar.

Since 1988, no one has been able to defend Mahar in the NA-205 constituency.

However, former PPP leader, Pir Abdul Haq alias Mian Mitho once managed to defeat the then chieftain of the Mahar tribe, Ghulam Mohammad Mahar. Father of Mohammad Bux Mahar, Ghulam Mohammad Mahar regained his seat after contesting on PPP ticket. He passed away in 1995.

At the time of his death, Mohammad Bux Mahar was only eight years old and hence, his political legacy was carried forward by his three nephews, who were also his sons-in-law, Ali Gohar Mahar, Ali Mohammad Mahar and Ali Nawaz Mahar. While political affairs were largely managed by Ali Gohar Mahar. Mohammad Bux Mahar was appointed as the chief of the Mahar family.

Three nephews of Ghulam Mohammad Mahar contested elections for various seats and joined different political parties including PPP, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz, and Pakistan Muslim League-Q. In 2002, Ali Mohammad Mahar won a seat in the National Assembly, though he later withdrew from his seat to form a coalition government with Pervez Musharraf against PPP.

He affiliated himself with Muttahida Quami Movement and other parties to form the provincial government in Sindh and served as the province's chief minister from 2002 to 2004.

Before 2013 general elections, Mahar family members again joined PPP and most of them were elected on different provincial and national assembly seats. Under the PPP government, Ali Nawaz Mahar served as the provincial minister for agriculture and Mohammad Bux Mahar was given sports ministry.

At the onset of 2018 general elections, Ali Gohar Mahar, along with his brother, Ali Mohammad Mahar, decided to switch party, while Mohammad Bux Mahar and Ali Nawaz Mahar opted to contest as PPP candidates. However, Mohammad Bux Mahar was unable to contest elections, as he was disqualified for concealing his assets.

Following the elections, Ali Mohammad Mahar won a national assembly seat as an independent candidate and later joined PTI, Ali Gohar Mahar won a provincial assembly seat, having contested as a GDA candidate, and Ali Nawaz Mahar was elected as a PPP MPA.  PPP later appointed Mohammad Bux Mahar as the adviser to chief minister on sports and after the death of the PTI MPA, who had won in the NA-205 constituency, Ali Mohammad Mahar nominated him as a candidate for the by-poll.

According to local journalist Shabir Arbani, there are numerous reasons that contributed to Mohammad Bux Mahar win.

"Mahar family was divided, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and other groups, including the Lund community, backed PPP and Mohammad Bux Mahar went door to door informing his community that he is the actual chieftain after the death of his father," said Arbani.

After the results, PTI blamed the PPP of using government machinery to win the by-poll.

"It would have been impossible for PPP to win this seat if government machinery hadn't been employed to support the ruling party's candidate," said PTI MPA Haleem Adil Sheikh.

Responding to these allegations, PPP leader Nasir Shah said, "Army was deployed and CCTV cameras were installed in all polling stations. How can one rig the polls in this situation?"

Members of PPP celebrated their victory and termed it a "historic triumph."

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2019.

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