LAHORE: Tribal and biraderi-based groups dominate electoral politics in Mianwali district, says a professor of political science at Government Degree College, Mianwali. He says all major political parties reach out to the people in the area through biraderi elders.
The district has two seats in the National Assembly (NA-71 and NA-72) and four in the Provincial Assembly (PP-43, -44, -45, and -46).
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Obaid Ullah Khan Shadi Khel is the National Assembly Member (MNA) from NA-71. He had beaten Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Malik Waheed Khan in a by-election held after the seat was vacated by PTI chairman Imran Khan. Khan had won the seat in 2013 general elections
The two corresponding provincial assembly seats were shared between the PML-N and the PTI.
In NA-72, PTI’s Amjad Ali Khan Niazi had beaten PML-N’s Humair Hayat Khan Rokhari in the 2013 elections.
Both Provincial Assembly seats in the area were also won by the PTI. PTI’s Ahmad Khan Bhachchar had won in PP- 45 by securing 59,746 votes against 29,228 votes of PML-N’s Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi. In PP- 46, PTI’s Sibtain Khan had won with 53,110. PML-N’s Malik Muhammad Feroz Joya was the runner up with 42,810 votes.
The number of voters registered in the district is 823,647 (452,364 are men and 371,283 women). The district has been divided into a district council (rural) and seven municipal committees (urban).
In NA-72, there are four municipal committees: Mianwali, Daud Khel, Kalabagh and Kamarmahsani.
In Mianwali municipal committee’s 27 wards, three major biraderis have fielded panels.
MNA Amjad Khan Niazi of the Watta Khel biradri is affiliated with PTI and Malik Humair Hayat Rokhari of Rokhari biradri with PML-N. Rokhari had lost to Niazi in the 2013 elections in NA-72.
The Malik biraderi is split between the PML-N and the PTI. Sajjad Bhachchar, who was also a contender for NA-72 in 2013 general elections, is affiliated with the PML-N. MPA Ahmad Khan Bhachchar is affiliated with the PTI. Political commentators say a tough contest is likely between candidates supported by Rokhari and Watta Khel biraderis.
The influential biraderi groups contesting in the 16 wards of Daud Khel are Shadi Khel (affiliated with PML-N) and Malik/Awan biradri (affiliated with PTI). In Kalabagh and Kamarmashani muncipalities, the Malik Awan and Shadi Khel are influential biradris.
Essa Khel, Piplan and Kundian are the three municipal committees in NA-71.
In Essa Khel municipal committee’s 16 wards, panels fielded by the Shadi Khel biradri are facing off with those of Malik Awan biradri (PTI).
In Piplan municipal committee’s 11 wards, PTI MPA Malik Sibtain is supporting panels from the Khan biraderi. His major rivals are panels supported by PML-N’s Feroz Joya.
Candidates affiliated with the Rokhari and the Watta Khel groups are contesting in 13 wards of the Kundian municipal committee. The municipality has pockets with significant populations of Sumbal, Sehray, Awan, Lohar and Kundi tribes.
The distirct also has pockets of Punnu Khel biradri. The biraderi leader Inam Ullah Khan Niazi, a cousin of PTI chairman Imran Khan, has not announced support for any candidates in the district. Niazi, an MPA from Bhakkar, is affiliated with the PML-N and is focusing his energies on local government elections in his constituency.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2015.