SUKKUR: The PS-35 Baqrani constituency in Larkana has always been troublesome for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the by-elections on April 24 (today) will be nothing short of a challenge.
The seat has remained vacant since 2013 when the late Haji Altaf Hussain Unar passed away due to a cardiac arrest. In the 2013 general elections, Suhail Anwar Sial, who had earlier enjoyed the party's support, lost the election to PPP's Haji Altaf Hussain Unar. The late Haji Altaf Hussain Unar had joined the PPP well ahead of the general elections and was given party ticket for PS-35, whereas Sial was ignored.
Differences sparked between the party leadership and Unar, his son and nephew filed nomination papers against the PPP candidates. The party leadership asked Unar to force his son and nephew to withdraw their candidacy against the PPP candidates, but he refused.
This led the party to withdraw their support to Unar and side with Sial, who was contesting as an independent candidate. Sial lost and Unar won.
Sial filed a petition with the election tribunal, Sukkur, stating that Unar had not disclosed his financial assets. This led to Unar's disqualification and a couple of days later, he passed away because of a cardiac arrest and the seat fell vacant.
Unar, who was originally from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and joined the PPP weeks before the elections, was thought to be a strong rival of the PPP's. After his death, his sons contacted the PPP leadership for a ticket but were declined. This made them step back.
Unar's nephew, Shafqat, is an independent candidate who is supported by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, some religious and nationalist parties and PPP leaders such as Safdar Abbasi and Haji Munawar Abbasi.
On the other hand, PPP candidate Suhail Anwar Sial is enjoying the support of his party.
While there are 11 other candidates fighting for the seat, political pundits believe the strongest candidates are Shafqat Unar and Sial. They claim there is a possibility Sial will emerge as victorious but it will not be an easy win.
In total there are 13 union councils in PS-35 with 118,902 registered voters out of which 62,456 are men and 56,444 are women. Around 118 polling stations and 274 polling booths have been established for April 24 where people can go vote from 8am to 5pm. Strict security measures have been adopted throughout the constituency and a heavy contingent of police and Rangers have been deployed. Deputy Commissioner Larkana Ghanwar Ali Leghari has announced a holiday throughout the district except in PS-35, where all government offices will remain open. The controller of examinations BISE Larkana has postponed all HSC-I and II papers scheduled for April 24. They will now be held on May 5.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ