The emergence of a 10-party alliance on the political landscape of Sindh has added an element of unpredictability to the outcome of next month’s elections in Hyderabad. Since 1988, Hyderabad voters have been voting for either the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) or Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with the former maintaining an edge over the latter.
There have been exceptions, though. In the 1993 elections, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidates had won one seat each. And in 2002, a Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) candidate was elected from the district which has three seats in the National Assembly and six in the Sindh Assembly.
The 10-party alliance – which comprises religious, nationalist and mainstream parties – has fielded joint candidates on all three National Assembly seats – NA-219, NA-220 and NA-221. Now, it is all geared up to challenge the MQM and the PPP.
Syed Tayyab Hussain Najeebullah Khan
Ali Muhammad Setho
Syed Amir Ali Shah Jamot
Syed Shahabuddin Shah Hussaini
Hyderabad is dominated by two ethnic groups – the Urdu speaking, with a majority in City (NA-220) and Latifabad talukas (NA-219), and Sindhis in Qasimabad and Hyderabad rural talukas (NA-221).
The voting trends since the 1970 elections show that the PPP failed to secure votes from the Urdu speaking people, who elected politicians like the late Maulana Syed Muhammad Ali Rizvi, late Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani and late Mian Muhammad Shaukat. With the creation of the MQM, the community found a new leadership. On the other hand, the Sindhi dominated towns remained strongholds of
For the 2013 elections, the 10-party alliance has fielded Shaikh Shaukat from Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair from Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP). The latter had defeated the MQM candidate in 2002 in NA-220. The two candidates are trying to cash in on religious votes and those of Sindhi, Punjabi and Pakhtun communities.
“I will win again if fair polls are held,” claims Sahibzada, who has requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to deploy the army at the polling stations.
Similarly, in NA-219, the JI candidate is confident of his success.
“The MQM has been in power for the last 10 years but still you will find potholes-marked roads, sewage puddles and water supply complaints all over the district. They didn’t even establish a university,” says JI’s district election campaign leader, Rana Mehmood Ali Khan.
And yet, the MQM maintains an undaunted posture.
Shabbir Chisti, from MQM’s election cell, says the JI cannot be taken seriously in Latifabad. He refers to the 2005 local government elections to show how Sahibzada’s popularity nosedived after 2002. “After getting elected, he [Sahibzada] severed all contacts with voters, unlike the MQM representatives who are always available,” he says. MQM’s former MPA Syed Waseem Hussain and former MNA Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui will be contesting NA-219 and NA-220.
In NA-221, the alliance is supporting a nationalist leader from the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, Dr Rajab Memon, who was the former vice chancellor of Sindh Agriculture University. Dr Memon will contest against Syed Ameer Ali Shah Jamote, PPP’s two-time winner.
“The PPP is guilty of five sins. It introduced the divisive local government system, the Zulfiqarabad project, sold the islands near Karachi coast, failed to rehabilitate flood-hit people, and [condoned the] killings and disappearance of Sindhi nationalists,” says Dr Memon, adding that he also blames the party for not providing quality education.
NA-221 comprises both urban and rural population. While the nationalists have been seen campaigning in the urban areas, the PPP’s candidates for the provincial assembly seats still maintain a strong influence in the rural regions.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2013.