A large banner with Nawaz Sharif’s image and the prospect of hours of waiting for their leader to show up greeted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters as they entered the Marquee area at the Pear Continental Hotel, the venue for the PML-N’s Sindh council elections.
Six hundred council members were eligible to vote, according to Saleem Zia, Since Ghous Ali Shah was the only candidate for the provincial president position, party workers muttered about the ‘unfairness’ of it all.
One group, led by organiser Hafeezuddin and lawyer and party worker Qadir Khan Mandokhail, staged a walkout when Shah’s name was announced, saying that they opposed this. Mandokhail told The Express Tribune prior to the walkout that theirs was a democratic party and every worker had the right to express his or her discontent.
Others were also disgruntled.
“This is a selection, not an election,” complained a supporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Ghous Ali Shah hasn’t done any work. Mamnoon Hussain has toured Sindh and reorganised the party. Shah only knows landlords and investors, not party workers, but how many prominent people has Shah brought on board?”
Hussain, a former governor of Sindh, said that he was not running against Shah. “Mian sahib said we should agree on a united candidate,” he told The Express Tribune. “This is not an issue.” Sharif thanked Hussain for proposing Ghous Ali Shah as a candidate. Hussain predicted that the party would win more seats in the next general elections than it did in 1997, when PML-N won a majority of seats in the elections that were marred with widespread allegations of rigging.
Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood Khan was an early arrival at the elections and spoke to party workers, many of who had travelled from different districts in Sindh. Also at the elections were former National Assembly speaker Ilahi Bux Soomro, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, MNA Ahsan Iqbal, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, new PML-N member Irfanullah Marwat, the head of the Punjabi Pakhtun Ittehad, Imdad Chandio and Nihal Hashmi.
The elections were considerably delayed because Sharif’s flight did not take off from Lahore on schedule due to fog in the city. To occupy themselves, party workers – some of who had pinned Sharif’s picture on their clothes or sported a pin depicting a tiger – descended on the hotel’s cafes to drink endless cups of tea. Those who stayed at the venue recited poems and songs lauding Nawaz Sharif and chanted slogans.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.