LARKANA, May 2: Qambar-Shahdadkot is a predominantly tribal area. It was carved out from Larkana on Dec 13, 2004 during Dr Arbab Rahim’s term as chief minister and it has a complex identity on account of its links Balochistan. The amalgamated culture, with the ingredients and traditional essence of Sindhi-Baloch nomenclatures, has virtually given birth to a society carrying all colours of lives drawn from Sindh and Balochistan.
The district has a territory through which the mountains of the Khirthar range stretch down to Jamshoro and touch the tips of Khuzdar. Its jurisdiction is well connected with Balochistan through the road leading to Shahdadkot town.
Two big tribes — Chandio and Magsi — dominate the district and their members have been reaching the elected houses for decades.
The new district now has seven talukas, is rich in oil and gas resources but always prone to the torrential rains often triggering floods. The uninterrupted flow of industrial effluents and toxic water coming from Balochistan through drains has rendered thousands of acres of land — famous for wheat cultivation — infertile. Rice is also a key crop but paucity of irrigation water has drastically affected the yield. The natural and man-made impediments have traumatised farming in the area and cast a negative impact on its overall economy.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif once planned to connect the Gwadar port with Sindh and Punjab through a four-lane motorway passing through Ratodero and Shahdadkot but his successors could not continue with the plan, due to a variety of reasons the officials of the National Highways Authority put for it.
So it remains a dream to lay such a permanent road link that could in future trigger a tremendous development activity and connect the Indus Highway with the National Highway touching Balochistan. Ultimately an alternative route would have facilitated road users and gear up economic activity in the whole district and around. Another issue of this district is the construction of the Right Bank Outfall Drain, which is still lying incomplete.
At the initial stage, Nawab Gaibi Sardar Khan Chandio, the Chandio tribe chieftain, and Nawabzada Mir Nadir Ali Magsi had been poles apart in their understanding of affairs.
The Chandio tribe’s chief and his cousins were also not on the same page in politics. Shahnawaz Chandio (supported by Nadir Magsi) filed nomination papers against Sardar Khan Chandio of PPP for PS-42 (Larkana-VIII). The party leadership after taking into confidence both heavyweights resolved the issue when, according to reports, PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari intervened. Mir Nadir Magsi along with Shahnawaz Chandio met Mr Zardari along with Shahnawaz Chandio, who announced his decision to retire from the contest in favour of his uncle, Nawab Chandio. Finally PPP awarded the NA-206 (Larkana-III) ticket to Mir Aamir Magsi who won the seat in the 2008 election.
In the upcoming general election, Nawab Sardar Khan Chandio is facing a comparatively weak candidate, Sartaj Chandio of the Pakistan Qaumi Awami Party. No doubt PML-N leader Imdad Cholyani and former taluka nazim Warah Manzoor Marfani (Chandio) are opposing the candidature of their tribal chief but the ground reality tells about a smooth sailing for Sardar Chandio. Until recently, the 10-parties alliance candidate, Syed Asghar Shah was in the run against the PPP’s Mir Aamir Magsi for NA-206 (Larkana-III). The situation in the district was quite unclear as Chandios and Magsis had locked horns in their desperation of maximum party tickets, but now the situation has almost changed.
On PS-39 (Larkana-V), PPP’s Ghulam Mujtaba Isran who is also the district president PPP Qambar-Shahdadkot is trying his luck against the dejected PPP man, Ali Hassan Khan Hakro, who is reportedly backed by Mir Nadir Magsi. In the light of the party’s decision, Mr Isran tried to convince him to pull out but in vain. Now PPP candidate is feeling uncomfortable amidst the reports of fissures in the district body of party.On PS-40 (Larkana-VI), Mir Nadir Ali Magsi has, after a long legal battle, been allowed to contest in the election and he is facing Gaibi Khan Mugheri of PML-N, who enjoys enough support of independent candidates.
Former taluka nazim of Shahdadkot Sardar Khan Jarwar contesting as an independent candidate is considered to be the strong challenger but he was persuaded to retire in favour of Mir Nadir Magsi.
This strengthened Mr Magsi’s position and he is now facing Naheed Khuhawar of the PML-F. She is a new face who had dared to jump in the fray by ignoring her family’s unwillingness to join in the race. Under the obtaining situation, Mir Nadir Magsi may comfortably win the seat.
On PS-38 (Larkana-IV) a triangular fight will be witnessed among Khursheed Junejo of the PPP, Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi (a PPP old-timer contesting as an independent candidate) and Rafay Rashdi (who is the son of TV anchorperson Mehtab Akbar Rashdi) contesting as a PML-F candidate. Another independent candidate, Saifullah Abro, who joined the PPP for a brief period, is also in the fray. He was expelled from the party after he declined to retire in favour of Khursheed Junejo, former ambassador to the UAE.
The PPP votes will naturally divide among Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi, Khursheed Junejo and Saifullah Abro, which may create some space for Rafay Rashadi. But Haji Munawwar Ali Abbasi’s strong position in his area and his act of maintaining regular contacts with his voters is a major plus point for his success.
Reports from the area speak of a close contest between Mr Abbasi and Mr Rashdi but some eleventh hour developments in this constituency cannot be ruled out. At the moment, the PPP candidate is in an uncomfortable position.
On NA-207 (Larkana-IV) also a triangular fight is expected between top PPP manager Faryal Talpur, who had returned from this constituency unopposed in the 2008 election, PPP-SB chairperson Ghinwa Bhutto, and JUI-F heavyweight and 10-party alliance candidate Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro. Dr Soomro has a history of contesting against Benazir Bhutto and his vote bank has kept swelling as is evident from the last two elections. This time, he has also succeeded in mustering the support of the alliance.
Recently PML-N leader Mumtaz Ali Bhutto and the Abbasis of Larkana have thrown their weight behind Ghinwa Bhutto. The political maneuvering on this seat is clearly aim at giving tough time to PPP’s Faryal Talpur, who under the prevailing political situation is seemingly the strongest candidate for the seat.