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Bilawal Bhutto, Hamza Shahbaz and Moonis Elahi. — File Photo.

Approximately 44 per cent of all seats in the outgoing National and provincial assemblies were occupied by individuals who had relatives serving in previous assemblies, according to research carried out by the monthly Herald.

Taking 1970, the year of the first one man-one vote polls in the country, as its starting point, the Herald has identified 597 families that collectively account for approximately 3300 of the 7600-plus seats in the National Assembly, four provincial assemblies and the Senate that have been up for grabs over the course of nine general elections.

Of the identified dynasties, 379 are based in Punjab, 110 in Sindh and 56 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Balochistan is home to 45 legislative dynasties while the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), with its relatively limited participation in electoral politics, is home to another 7 such families.

Three hundred and sixty five political dynasties were represented in the outgoing national and provincial assemblies of which more than a hundred also had members who sat in the assemblies of 1970.

According to the study, the percentage of seats occupied by the members of political dynasties has experienced minimal changes over successive electoral cycles, registering a minimum incidence of 37 per cent in 1977 and peaking in 1993 at nearly 50 per cent. Among the provinces, Punjab records the highest incidence of dynasticism at 50 per cent (in southern Punjab the number rises to 64 per cent), followed by Balochistan at 44 per cent. Sindh comes a close third at 41 per cent (within the province, the level of dynasticism in Karachi is less than nine per cent), followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at 28 per cent and Federally Administered Tribal Areas at 18 per cent.

A dynasty, for the purposes of this study, is defined as a family with at least two members having served in the National Assembly, the four provincial assemblies or the Senate since 1970.  Many of the identified families have been found to have more than the requisite two members active in electoral politics – former president Farooq Leghari’s family, for instance, has had as many as fourteen different family members elected to the country’s various legislative forums since 1970.

The family of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, founder of the National Peoples Party and acting prime minister of Pakistan in 1990, has had 11 of its members serve in various assemblies. In 2008, four of Jatois sons held, between them, two provincial assembly seats, one National Assembly seat and one Senate seat, granting the family simultaneous representation in all three legislative forums, a national record of sorts.

A significant number of the identified dynasties, particularly those comprising the landed elite, have been active in electoral politics since 1920, with many having played a role in the independence movement during the 1940s.  A surprisingly large number, particularly those with a base in urban areas, also came to the fore in the years following 1970.

For a complete list of the 597 identified dynasties, pick up a copy of Herald’s pre-election special issue, out on news stands now.

Comments (26) Closed

Mustafa Razavi May 09, 2013 11:40pm
By all three you mean Zardari, Nawaz and Shahbaz, right?
Mustafa Razavi May 09, 2013 11:42pm
Alizeh should do her next research about how many families own Pakistani media.
Nizam May 09, 2013 06:48pm
Is it not true of all professions? What is wrong about the son of a Prime Minister wanting to be a minister? Or the children of doctors, engineers, businessmen and architects wanting to follow the footsteps of their parents. However the problem DOES occur when the party chief disregards the merit and refuses to give party tickets to people other than family members.
ANEES May 09, 2013 03:00pm
Bring King Khan.. Bring it on...
Adeel May 09, 2013 05:41pm
Imran is a hope. However, Imran is a
Saadia May 09, 2013 05:21pm
Not a surprise what else you can expect from Zardari or Sharif's govt.
saeed May 10, 2013 04:23am
Pakistanis aren,t suit to have traditional democracy period.We have con artist like Sharif and the rest to deal with.We need managed democracy.
Sadat Hassan May 11, 2013 09:43am
Imran Khan is the best person in Pakistan politics and he is committed and honest person and can change Pakistan's destiny. So the vote of the pakistani people must go to Imran Khan's party.
Omar May 09, 2013 02:52pm
I fail to understand that for many years there has been corruption in our beloved country by our politicians which has spread like cancer and is making our country fall further in to the abyss are again voting to these same people is beyond my comprehension. Is there no love for your fellow countrymen, women and children who are suffering every day for your corrupt deeds in taking bribes for your votes, you may survive for a short period but in the long run you will also suffer and for your actions hundreds of other Pakistanis will suffer. We have such an opportunity to change Pakistan if we all come together as one nation of Pakistan and give IMARAN KHAN a chance and establish a new Pakistan that we can be proud off, where people of all walks of life have equal opportunities and live as human beings and not have to be degraded. Let us all come together and work for a better Pakistan VOTE IMARAN KHAN
Ali May 09, 2013 02:50pm
What a shame.
shabbir May 09, 2013 10:04am
There used to be one King and things were so many small kings at all localities :)
Fida Sayani May 09, 2013 10:54am
If the voters of Pakistan continue to elect the member of dynasties or the privilege class, the country will never make progress and the inequitable distribution of wealth will continue. Voters have to change the structure of assemblies and bring in leaders who are from the under privilage class.
muzlee May 09, 2013 10:54am
that is why , we want Imran khan. Just want to get rid of this sick Inherited Politicians.
Babar May 09, 2013 11:03am
Amazing fact and then members of these parties have the courage to come onto a paltform and promise the world. Shame on you ....
Pakistan May 09, 2013 11:28am
if we will still going to vote for PMLN or PPP we deserver Zardaris all our lives..
Asif Kahsmiri May 09, 2013 11:43am
Zeeshan May 09, 2013 07:33pm
I hate al these 3 parties which are infact family businesses. If people did not reject these 3 parties then they should not complain about anything.
Naeem May 09, 2013 01:01pm
When Imran Khan comes to power and the voice of the people of Pakistan is heard then we should have a public hearing on TV bringing these families to account for the mess they have made of Pakistan. These crooks have been plundering pakistan THEY MUST BE BROUGHT IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN TO ACCOUNT FOR THEIR GOVERNANCE. How is it that only members of these families come to power. Is all the god given talent and ability only in members of these families? why dont these families produce international sportsmen and women, or Doctors or artists or musicians generation after generation? May be because you need talent and hard work to produce such men and womwn. It makes me sick to see the children of these families lined up to rule yet again. GET RID OF THESE PEOPLE THEY ARE CORRUPT INCOMPETENT and IMMORAL.These people do not have the know how, the wil and the courage to take Pakistan out of this mess they have created. ONLY IMRAN HAS THE WILL COURAGE COMMITMENT and LOVE for the people of Pakistan TO SORT OUT PAKISTAN. FOR GOD SAKE COME OUT AND VOTE IMRAN KHAN IN POWER. PLEASE PLEASE DONT LET PAKISTAN CONTINUE TO SUFFER. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!
MyHome May 09, 2013 01:04pm
the tire of elites are in making
GK Shahani May 09, 2013 01:05pm
I'd like to vote the person who dare to eradicate "Double Standard" from the country! but I don't see any in the present scenario! and unfortunately there's very short time left to drag the country from darkness! So let's hope and join hands with one & only Tehreek-e-Insaaf...!!!
ID May 09, 2013 01:21pm
Amazing facts! Well done DAWN.
Javied Hassan Askarey May 10, 2013 07:32am
We prefer to have a Dracula as our prime minister than these political dynasty.
Akram May 10, 2013 09:15am
the only way to reduce this dynastic politics is for someone far sighted government to change electoral laws so that dynastic candidates are deducted say 5000 votes automatically during the vote count. What would happen then is you would motivate the parties to choose new faces rather than risk losing seats. Pakistan cannot progress without such modernising foresight.
Naila May 10, 2013 10:27am
Love you DAWN for educating us .. hope this report serves as an eye-opener for the electorate.
Khalid May 10, 2013 10:30am
The only reason they are all contesting the elections is the fact that they stand to make a lot more money than their current professions (if they have any). What a shame that we still vote for them. When are we going to get rid of these families?.
Wizarat May 10, 2013 01:07pm
Anyone advising them to think of Pakistan First? Maybe they can start by having a Tax ID (NTN) number and start paying tax on all of their interest and incomes and bring all their assets back to Pakistan