A family-dominated contest

Apr 28 2013



After partition, Mianwali district was dominated politically by Nawab Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalabagh who struck a powerful alliance with Amir Abdullah Khan Rokhri, the Maliks of Wan-Bhachran and the Khans of Isakhel.

The group was opposed by Maulana Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi and Amanullah Khan Niazi, a lawyer and an uncle of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Inamullah Niazi. After the murder of the Nawab of Kalabagh, his family’s hold on local politics loosened. Meanwhile, with the blessings of Maulana Niazi, a Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) leader with considerable personal clout, several new faces appeared on the local political horizon.

NA-71 covers the Isakhel tehsil and half of the Mianwali tehsil. In 2002, Imran Khan won the seat in a close contest with Obaidullah Shadikhel. He later boycotted the 2008 polls, allowing Malik Amad Khan, a grandson of the Nawab of Kalabagh, to secure a win here as an independent candidate. The latter later joined the PPP and was given a seat in the federal cabinet.

This time Ayla Malik, a granddaughter of the Nawab of Kalabagh, is canvassing for Imran Khan against the PML-N’s Obaidullah Shadikhel. Inamullah Niazi, a former PML-N politician who had joined the PTI, was denied the PTI ticket for the adjoining NA-72 and has announced that he will be challenging his cousin Imran Khan in NA-71 while taking on the PTI’s last-minute nominee, Amjad Khan Niazi, in NA-72.

Imran Khan is up against a formidable opponent in Obaidullah Shadikhel. Also, the family members who were so prominent in the PTI chief’s campaign in 2002 are now lobbying for Inamullah Niazi, even though their focus by and large remains on NA-72.

NA-72 covers Piplan and half of the Mianwali tehsil. In recent years this has come to be known as a stronghold of Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, who won in1988 as a JUP candidate and then, as an independent, beat Maulana Abdul Sattar Naizi in 1990. The maulana settled the score in 1993, when he and a fellow Islami Jamhoori Ittehad candidate beat Sher Afgan in two Minawali constituencies.

The events following the 2002 election brought another change in Dr Sher Afgan’s politics. Elected on a PPP ticket for the first time in the absence of Maulana Niazi who had passed away in May 2001, he left the party, hurt over the PPP leadership’s failure to console him over the death of a son in a road accident. He joined the PPP dissident group of the ‘Patriots’ and quickly grew into one of the most ardent defenders of Pervez Musharraf’s rule.

In 2008, Humair Hayat Rokhri (independent) defeated Dr Sher Afgan, then with the PML-Q, and Inamullah Niazi of the PML-N in a close three-way fight. Rokhri then joined the PML-N.

The same families are in the race here again. Dr Sher Afgan passed away in October 2012 and has been replaced by Amjad Khan Niazi, who managed to get the PTI ticket just a day after he joined Imran Khan. With both Humair Rokhri and Inamullah Niazi having shown their ability to garner votes in the past, a close three-way contest is on the cards.

Mianwali’s PP-43 has since 1985 been won four times by the Shadikhels and twice by the Khans of Isakhel. In 2008, Abdul Hafeez Khan of Isakhel (PML-N) defeated Amanatullah Shadikhel (independent) by just 250 votes. The PML-N has this time awarded its ticket to Amantullah Shadikhel, leaving another important aspirant Abdul Rehman Khan to contest as an independent. Jamal Ahsan Khan ( PTI) is also a serious contender.

In PP-44 the 2008 MPA, Adil Abdullah Rokhri, of the PML-N faces Dr Salahudin Khan of the PTI in what promises to be a close match.

PP-45 has been won by the Rokhri, Wattakhel, Shermankhel and the Bhachar tribes in different elections .Former MPA Ali Haider Noor Khan Niazi of the PML-N is pitted against Malik Ahmed Khan Bhachar (PTI) and Habibullah Khan, a retired inspector general of the police (independent).

PP-46 has traditionally had the Joiyas and the Khans of Piplan facing each other, with the Joiyas having an upper hand. The PML-N’s Malik Feroz Joiya, elected MPA in 2008, takes on Sabtain Khan of the PTI.