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Largely a family matter

May 10, 2013


In NA-259, Quetta city, 34 candidates are contesting elections. The important ones include chief of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Mehmood Khan Achakzai, senator Hafiz Hamdullah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Ali Ahmed Kurd, Mir Maqbool Lehri of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Dr Ruquiya Saeed Hashmi (who belongs to the Hazara community) of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) leader Abdul Khaliq Hazara.

In 2008, Syed Nasir Ali Shah of the PPP, who is from the Hazara community, won the elections. He has since joined the Balochistan National Party-Mengal due to some differences with the PPP leadership. He is not contesting the upcoming polls since the courts disqualified him over a fake degree. The PkMAP boycotted the last elections.

This constituency is peopled by several communities, including the Pakhtun, Baloch, Hazara and those who have come from other provinces. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has not fielded a candidate and is instead supporting Mr Achakzai; earlier, the party suggested his name for the caretaker prime minister. The politician won this seat in 1993, also with PML-N support, and is expected to be supported by the non-native residents of the constituency.

This seat has been clinched twice by the JUI-F, in 1988 and in 2002. This time, though, it is facing the opposition of Pakhtun and Baloch nationalist parties as well as its own splinter group, the JUI-Nazaryati, which split in 2007 due to differences over party policy towards the Tehreek-Taliban Pakistan.

The PPP ticket has been given to Mir Maqbool Lehri, who earlier was affiliated with the PML-N and was the district nazim of Quetta. With influence in Quetta city and its outskirts, he is considered a strong contestant. The PPP also has a vote bank in Quetta city; the PB-1 seat was taken by the PPP in the last elections.

The Hazara Democratic Party is running its president, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, for this seat but Dr Ruquiya Saeed Hashmi of the PML-Q is also a potentially strong candidate. She was a provincial minister in the last government and has been a member of the provincial assembly twice. Her spouse, Saeed Ahmed Hashmi, is also contesting PB-1 as a PML-Q candidate.

Political observers say that the votes of the area’s non-native residents and the Hazara community will play a decisive role in this constituency. The PML-N, which once counted as its supporters all the non-native residents, will find a changed situation from 1993. A large chunk of this community has left the area due to violence, and those that are left have reservations about political parties’ indifference while they were being targeted. The same is true of the Hazara community, and political parties are therefore facing a tough time enlisting their support.

An interesting situation has been created in NA-266 (Jaffarabad-Nasirabad): candidates from the Jamali family are contesting against each other on this national and the two provincial assembly seats. Also in the running are landlords and political heavyweights in this constituency that comprises the only two canal-irrigated districts of Balochistan. The country’s first prime minister from Balochistan, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, and the current caretaker prime minister, Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, belong to Jaffarabad. The area has produced three chief ministers: Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Mir Taj Mohammad Jamali and his nephew, Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali.

Over 30 candidates are in the election race from these two districts. In the 2008 elections, Mir Taj Mohammad Khan Jamali won the seat and after his death his son Changez Khan Jamali was elected unopposed on a PPP ticket.

The important candidates here include Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali (independent), Mir Changez Khan Jamali (PPP), Mir Saleem Khan Khosa (PML-N), Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch (National Party) — who was elected in 1970 on a National Awami Party platform— and Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, the grandson of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti.

This area is populated by the Jamali, Umrani, Khosa, Mengal, Bugti, Marri, Jamoot, Chalgari, Sheikh, Shahliani, Buledi, Soomro and several other tribes. Though political parties do have vote banks, the influence of the landlords always plays a vital role in the winning of elections here.

In most of the National Assembly elections, this seat has been won by the Jamalis though once it went to Mir Nabi Baksh Khosa when he contested under the PPP banner. All other elections went to Mir Taj Mohammad Jamali, Mir Zafarullah Jamali, his son Fareed Jamali and a nephew when the family was united and used to field candidates with the consensus of the family’s elders.

This time, though, the Jamali family is politically divided. Mir Zafarullah Jamali is facing his own nephew Mir Changez Jamali.

The Jamalis lost their ‘home’ provincial assembly seat of Rojhan Jamali in the 2008 elections when three candidates of the family stood against each other; the seat was taken by their arch-rival, Mir Zahoor Hussain Khosa.

PB-25 and PB-26 fall in NA-266. Former deputy chairman of the Senate, Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali (PML-N), the nephew of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, Mir Haider Ali Jamali (independent) (also brother-in-law of Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali) are contesting over PB-25.

In terms of PB-26, the contest is between Mohammad Omar Jamali (independent) — also the son of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali — Rahat Bibi (PML-N) — the sister of Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali, wife of Mir Faique Jamali and niece of Mir Zafarullah Jamali —and Mir Khan Mohammad Jamali (PPP).

The chief of the Jamali tribe, Sardar Yar Mohammad Jamali, has announced support for Mir Haider Ali Jamali and Mohammad Omar Jamali; he has also asked his tribesmen to vote for them. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali is running the election campaign of Mohammad Omar Jamali and Mir Haider Ali Jamali.

Though Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali does not enjoy the support of the tribal chieftain and Mir Zafarullah Jamali, political observers say that he has his own vote bank and personal political influence. Good relations with the other tribes were developed by his father, the late Mir Noor Mohammad Khan Jamali.

There are reservations that the Jamali candidates may lose as a result of opposing each other. Yet Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali may well win the National Assembly seat since he is respected in the area and has influence over most of the tribes here. Local tribal alliances have also announced their support for him.