A decade of neglect yet none else to elect


HYDERABABD: Sindh’s twin coastal districts, Thatta and Sujawal, have not seen much development in the last decade during which the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) remained in the saddle in the province. Despite their proximity to Pakistan’s economic hub Karachi, growth in development and trade has not visited these districts.

Economic expert, Dr Kaisar Bengali, remarked at a recent event that this district, so close to the metropolis, was sadly around 100 years behind Karachi in terms of development. Thatta’s population is 979,817 and Sujawal’s 781,967. The former consists of one National Assembly (NA) and three provincial assembly constituencies with 440,329 registered voters and the latter one NA and two PS constituencies with 348,864 registered voters.

The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Pakistan National Human Development Report, 2017, ranked both Thatta and Sujawal low in the human development index (HDI) at 90 and 96 numbers respectively.

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In the education sector, Alif Ailaan’s 2013-18 report ranked Thatta and Sujawal at 110 and 143 respectively. Moreover, both districts are also at the lowest ranking even within Sindh with the former on the 27th place and the latter on 29th out of a total of 29 districts.

Constant sea erosion and an ever-increasing drop in supply of water from Indus River to these lowest riparian districts have adversely affected both the agriculture and fishing sectors.

However, despite these significant indicators which show a failure of the PPP government in uplifting the two underdeveloped districts, the party appears electorally invincible in sweeping votes from all seven constituencies in Thatta and Sujawal.

A dramatic development which may lead to this foreseeably absolute victory was made possible after the recent joining of the PPP by the politically influential Sheerazi family, which until then had remained a formidable adversary of the party.

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In the 2013 general elections, the PPP won only one NA and one PS seat from the two districts. Its former opponents, the Sheerazis, who contested as independent candidates and later joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), were elected from one NA and three PS seats.

One PS seat went to an independent candidate Muhammad Ali Malkani, who later joined the PPP. Malkani has received the party ticket again in the 2018 elections for the same constituency, renamed as PS-76 after the delimitations earlier this year.

The PPP has given tickets to three persons from the Sheerazi family, including former MNA Syed Ayaz Ali Shah Sheerazi, Syed Hussain Shah Sheerazi and Syed Riaz Hussain Shah Sheerazi for NA-231 in Sujawal, PS-75 in Sujawal and PS-77 in Thatta, respectively.

The party has also brought into its fold Jam Awais Bijar Khan Jokhio, who contested as a PML-N candidate in 2013, by making him the party’s candidate for PS-79 in Thatta.

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The PPP’s old guard in its Thatta chapter initially objected to the party’s decision to enlist the former political foes as well as allowing a Nawabshah-based person, Ali Hassan Zardari, to contest from the two districts. However, former MNAs Babu Ghulam Hussain and Abdul Wahid Soomro, and other local leaders soon relented as the party succeeded in overcoming their dissent.

“I have come here to serve the people,” said Zardari at a corner meeting on Saturday. He said his party’s government will provide employment to the youth.

“I promise that if elected I will approve roads in the area within three months,” he assured the people of his constituency, based in Ghora Bari and Keti Bundar talukas. “If I fail to deliver, I will resign from the seat.”

Another factor for PPP’s hold in the districts is the absence of strong candidates from opposition parties, mainly the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The GDA has fielded two candidates on as many PS seats and the PTI three candidates on one NA and two PS seats.

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Some candidates from Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan and PML-N are also contesting. Besides, PTI-Gulalai’s leader Ayesha Gulalai is also contesting on an NA seat.

Although Gulalai is contesting from NA-231 in Sujawal, she has yet to visit the district. She is expected to spend five days in Sujawal but the schedule for her arrival is still tentative.

The relatives of Malkani, who formerly belonged to the PPP, have joined Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). They will support TLP’s candidate for PS-76, Ghulam Muhammad Naeemi, against their relative.

A coalition of independent candidates dubbed Sujawal Ittehad has also been formed to challenge the PPP. The Sujawal Ittehad will support Abdul Rehman Mallah in NA-231 and Mukhtiar Ali Zaunr in PS-75. The PTI’s local leader Shahnawaz Loond has also announced support for the group.

“The feudal lords of the PPP have destroyed our city. We take it as an obligation to fight against them,” said Zaunr at a joint press conference of the group.

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Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1752883/1-decade-neglect-yet-none-else-elect/