The PPP faces tough competition with the MQM on Karachi’s PS-103, but it faces other rivals in the rest of Sindh.
The district has three National Assembly and six provincial assembly seats with the PPP’s former information minister Shazia Atta Marri competing for the second time, after losing in the May 11 polls by a margin of around 12,000 votes.
The two provincial assembly constituencies, PS-78 and PS-79, which comprise the NA-235, were also won by the PML-F. Marri was confident after bagging 62,231 votes. “There was massive rigging at the polling stations,” she said. “This time around the army will be deployed and the polling process is expected to be fair.”
Palijo has won support from influential people, such as Syed Nisar Hussain Shah, the caretaker of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s shrine. Marri is also counting on the presumed unpopularity of Dars, who faces many allegations of corruption in his two stints as nazim.
Meanwhile, Dars, who has the support of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf’’s vice chairperson, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, accuses the Sindh government of assisting Marri in her campaign. Returning officer Ghulam Mustafa Laghari has declared 127 out of the 213 polling stations in the district as very sensitive and they will be given security by the army. A total of 226,726 people are registered to vote.
The May 11 election on NA-237 saw a close contest between PPP’s Sadiq Memon and Syed Riaz Shah Shirazi of the influential Shirazi family. Memon won by a margin of 3,700 votes, bagging a total of 86,746 votes. PML-N’s Marvi Memon followed with 23,598 votes at the third position. The Shirazis joined, however, the PML-N. The PPP has awarded the ticket to his mother, Shamsunnisa Memon. Meanwhile, Riaz Shirazi is fighting as the PML-N’s candidate.
Returning officer Abdul Razzaq Memon wrote to the election commission to provide military security at all 345 polling stations. “The local police is too politicised. They worked for the PPP candidates in the May 11 elections and they will do the same if they are given the security responsibility this time around,” claimed Shirazi.
Of the two NA and five PS seats in the district, Shirazis won one NA and four PS seats. One of their candidates, however, Muhammad Ali Malkani, who won the PS-87 seat, later joined the PPP and is now canvassing for Memon. Shirazis after having joined the PML-N are likely to benefit from the pool of votes secured by Marvi. The constituency has 362,876 registered voters and over 58 per cent turned out to vote in the general elections.
The PS-64 constituency, based in the urban areas of Mirpurkhas, has always voted for MQM candidates since the 1988 general elections. The party is, however, given a close competition by the PPP. In both the recent elections in 2008 and 2002, the MQM candidates secured a win by a margin of a few thousand votes.
Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan Kamali is contending on the MQM’s ticket while the PPP has fielded Abdul Saeed Qureshi – both candidates belong to the Urdu-speaking community. According to returning officer Munir Bux Bhutto there are 145,003 registered voters and 119 polling stations in the constituency. The army will be deployed.
In Shikarpur, a close contest is expected between the PPP and PML-N candidates. PPP’s Abid Hussain Bhaio and Ameer Khan Jatoi of PML-N will contest the elections from PS-12.
The seat was vacated following the disqualification of PPP’s returned candidate, Allah Dino aka Babal Bhaio, who was found guilty of submitting a fake degree by the election commission. There are 103 polling stations out of which around 22 polling stations have been declared most-sensitive, where district returning officer has sought the help of armed forces inside the polling stations for security.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2013.