Constituency profile: Where biradaris trump ideology

Published: May 1, 2013
Electioneering for NA-51 has gained considerable momentum, especially after former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was given the green signal to contest.

Electioneering for NA-51 has gained considerable momentum, especially after former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was given the green signal to contest.


The political game for two important National Assembly seats – NA-51 and NA-54 – is based on connections and personalities, rather than ideology.

Both the PPP and the PML-N have fielded strong candidates, and analysts predict an epic showdown in these constituencies.

Character of the constituencies

Janba and biradari are main features of this region, and often decide electoral outcome.

In NA-51, the largest clan, the Rajputs, encompassing the Bhattis, Janjuas and Ghakars, accounts for 50% of total votes. The second largest biradari is the Arains, which make up about 20% of the vote bank, trailed closely by the Kashmiris. Gujjars account for around 10% of the population, and the rest are Awans, Jatts and Qureshis.

In this vein, prominent biradaris in NA-54 include the Maliks, Chaudhrys, Kashmiris, Hazaras, Sheikhs and Rajas.

Battle of the Rajas for the Gujar Khan mantle

Electioneering for NA-51 has gained considerable momentum, especially after former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was given the green signal to contest. Also in the running is Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Raja Javaid Ikhlas, a former Rawalpindi district nazim.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has high hopes for Ashraf who, during his time as prime minister, spent a large quantity of development funds in this area, reportedly over Rs40 billion. The projects he undertook included the widening of main roads, the supply of gas to 25 union councils, the provision of electricity to far-off villages, and the establishment of a passport office.

He has won the last two elections and brings forth an impressive personal vote bank.

However, Ashraf faces stiff competition from Ikhlas. He contested the 2008 elections on a PML-Q ticket and bagged 70,000 votes.

According to analysts, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) is not in a great position to compete against the PPP and PML-N Rajas. People interviewed from different segments of society were of the view that if the party had given its ticket to Chaudhry Muhammad Azeem instead of Raja Farhat Faheem Bhatti, it could have expected a better outcome.

Former PML-N supporter Chaudhry Riaz has announced that he will now back Ashraf, while Chaudhry Azeem, who had high hopes for a PTI ticket, has reassured Ikhlas of his support.

Trends in the cantonment area

The National Assembly seat in cantonment area of Rawalpindi, NA-54, is unique. It is one constituency in which the military is also targeted during election campaigns, as many consider it to be a hurdle in the development of the vicinity.

PPP candidate Zamurd Khan won the seat during 2002 elections, mainly relying on his janba to defeat PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq. In turn, PML-N fielded Malik Abrar Ahmad in 2008 and, this time, emerged victorious.

Today, Zamurd and Malik, both in the running again, are the top two contenders.

Zamurd has a strong vote bank. During his time as chairman of Pakistan Baitul Mal, he obliged people and was always available. Analysts say that it is these very public contacts that make him the frontrunner. Seemingly, this particular constituency is the PPP’s only hope in the garrison city.

And yet, Malik, though not considered a favourite, enjoys tremendous party support.

PTI has chosen Hina Manzoor, the owner of Rawalpindi College of Commerce, as its candidate. Although also a strong contender, his support base does not appear to rival that of Zamurd or Malik.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami has fielded local trader Rizwan Ahmad, who has been electioneering rather actively.

He has held rallies several times, and even staged protests against military policies, including the increase in taxes and the barring of the area’s population from local bodies’ politics. He has promised to continue the struggle against military policies, if elected.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2013. 

Correction: Earlier version of the story incorrectly stated Shahid Gilani as the PTI candidate. The error is regretted.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (12)

  • Mr. Insaf
    May 1, 2013 - 8:56AM

    So ET according to you folks the PTI is not going to win a single seat?
    Someone needs to check your bias.


  • Zulfiqar
    May 1, 2013 - 8:58AM

    If you see elections from the perspective of ET, PTI will not be able to win a single seat.


  • PakPower
    May 1, 2013 - 9:15AM

    I am from NA-54 and the area is quite educated and votes are polled on ideology here. Also PTI’s candidate here is Hina Munzoor and not Shahid Gillani. HM has been quite active in the area and is going door to door in every vicinity. She can put up a tough fight here.


  • Zameer
    May 1, 2013 - 10:00AM

    Express get your facts right in NA 54 PTI candidate is Hina Manzoor not shahid Gilani


  • KSA
    May 1, 2013 - 10:15AM

    @writer…. PTI candidate for NA54 is Hina Manzoor, it is very strange that author is anaylzing the constituency and unaware who is the candidate. This shows the quality of writing. I totally disagree with the analysis about Clan. I am from this constituency and my family actively participated in previous elections. The clan and bradris are the tales of past, now reality has changed. People are more educated and now voting for parties and ideology. Even within families, you can find supporter of PPP, PML(N) or PTI. Very close contest is expected in the constituency of NA 54.


  • riz
    May 1, 2013 - 10:15AM

    ideology votes also exist in both National Assembly seats – NA-51 and NA-54 –

    in my view PPP will win NA-51 with narrow margin while NA-54 wolud be a easy win for N-league.


  • Ihsan
    May 1, 2013 - 11:11AM

    From Islamabad n Pindi PTI will win with a big margin


  • Analyst
    May 1, 2013 - 11:29AM

    What ET do:

    Constituency profile: No of constituency
    Competition expected, baradri system, strong candidates etc

    PML N: Strong candidate, people like him, everyone talking about him, party leadership back, baradi wala banda etc etc.

    PPP: Weak candidate profile, corruption charges made him unpopular etc etc.

    PTI: Weak candidate, people are disappointed with choice of candidate, no edge of baradari

    Compare all constituency profiles posted by ET and you will find above same story. If PPP and PTI are not strong then at least stop writing strong competition is expected. And if these parties are strong then dnt be bias.


  • reasonlight
    May 1, 2013 - 11:57AM

    MQM is the answer.


  • Rajput
    May 1, 2013 - 2:05PM

    Bradari system still exists in NA-51 mostly in rural areas where people don’t even know the party of candidate whom they are voting.i am from this constituency and we have family terms with raja javaid ikhlas PML-N candidate even though my vote is for IK only.there is going to be a close contest between PPP and PML-N in rural areas.chances for PTI are very rare in this constituency.Recommend

  • May 1, 2013 - 10:49PM

    What a biased reporting ET. I salute you.


  • reasonlight
    May 5, 2013 - 1:01AM

    The system will continue for quite long as MQM is not finding suitable climate/environment to bring about the change.


More in Pakistan