Undoubtedly, much to the relief of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, his son Abdul Qadir Gilani has been able to hang on to NA-151, the seat in Multan vacated by the disqualification of the senior Gilani. The family, of course, considers Multan its very own fiefdom and any loss on the home turf would have been, to put it mildly, highly embarrassing. It is significant that Abdul Qadir won by only 4,096 votes against his closest rival, Shaukat Hayat Bosan, an independent candidate — picking up 64,628 votes as compared with 60,532 by Bosan. The polls remained close right till the end, decided only as the totals came in from the last few polling stations. Bosan was backed by the PML-N and the PTI. The PML-N’s own candidate, Malik Ihsan Bucha, crossed the line over to the PPP camp earlier this month.
The PPP and, of course, the Gilanis have clung on to a traditional bastion of power. There have mercifully been no accusations of large-scale rigging. Bosan, graciously enough, has said that the polls were transparent and spoke only of minor violations of rules and regulations. This is a good omen with the general election not very far off. But it is also true that the PPP has some things to think about. Abdul Qadir’s win came rather narrowly and should lead the party to consider if there are reasons why people may be disgruntled with it. There may still be time to make amends and set things on track. Some recent polls have indicated that the PML-N and the PTI are well poised in Punjab and while the results of these may not be totally reliable, the warning signals may be worth taking heed of.
The poll brings another Gilani into parliament; Abdul Qadir’s brother, Ali Musa Gilani, is already an MNA after having won the NA-148 seat with a convincing margin earlier this year. The politics of family — so entrenched in our political culture and that of south Asia as a whole — continues; new members of the same dynasties come into power. But what will be most significant of all is how well they serve their people and prove correct the faith placed in them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.