LARKANA, May 5: Battle for power among candidates of almost all hues and parties is poised to be evenly contested in Shikarpur district and may throw up major upsets as the already insipid electioneering has further become a low key affair after recent suicide attack on a candidate.
The district, infested with crimes and plagued by bloody tribal clashes, suffers from a very precarious law and order situation, which is bound to have a negative impact on voter turnout, particularly after recent suicide attack on the motorcade of Dr Ibrahim Jatoi, a candidate of National Peoples Party, and before that a bomb blast at the shrine of Hajan Shah Mariwaro.
Rahim Bakhsh Jafferi, a political analyst, told Dawn on Saturday that turnout of women voters remained traditionally low in the predominantly tribal society of the district, which would further drop in the wake of ban on providing transport facility to voters to polling stations.
Dismal literacy rate and ignorance about the importance of vote would also impact voter turnout as well as reduction in number of registered voters by the Election Commission of Pakistan, he said.
He believed that despite all that majority of votes would be polled for PPP because people had no other better choices.
Candidates of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), National Peoples Party (NPP), PML-Functional, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) as well as a host of candidates of lesser known parties and independents are in the run for NA-202 (Shikarpur-I), NA-203 (Shikarpur-II), PS-9 (Shikarpur-I), PS-10 (Shikarpur-II), PS-11 (Shikarpur-III), PS-12 (Shikarpur-IV).
There are 12 candidates for NA-202 and prominent among them are former Sindh chief minister Aftab Shaban Mirani (PPPP), Agha Mohammad Munwwar (PML-N), Iftikhar Soomro (PTI), Dr Ibrahim Jatoi (NPP) and Maulana Abdullah Pahore (JUI-F).
MQM’s Sakhi Dad Mari and a host of independents are also in the fray but the serious fight would be between Dr Ibrahim Jatoi (NPP) and Aftab Shaban Mirani (PPPP).
The fight between PPPP and NPP candidates was likely to be very tough and end in a narrow close. A total of 216 polling stations have been set up in the constituency where number of registered voters is 260,355.
For NA-203, from among nine candidates the real contest is expected to be fought between Ghous Bakhsh Mahar (PML-F) and Sardar Wahid Bakhsh Bhayo (PPPP) but analysts believe Mahar has an edge over Bhayo.
Maulana Yakoob Mahar (JUI-F) is also in the run. There are 192 polling stations in the constituency with 228,663 registered voters and 598 polling booths.
Line-up of candidates for the four provincial assembly seats depicts a very interesting picture because there are no easily predictable winners and losers.
From among 15 candidates of different political parties in the run for PS-9, Agha Imtiaz Ali Khan (PML-N), Agha Siraj Khan Durrani (PPPP) and Zulfikar Ali Kamario (PML-F) are serious fighters for the seat.
Analysts see Kamario as stronger than Durrani and other contestants. Moulana Illahi Bakhsh Brohi of JUI-F is also in the fray. A total of 105 polling stations have been established for 129,438 registered voters in this constituency.
For PS-10, Kamran Khan Mahar (PPPP), Shaheryar Khan Mahar (PML-F) and Maulana Abdullah Mahar (JUI-F) and five other candidates are in the run but analysts see Shaheryar as stronger than Kamran and JUI-F and PTI as vote spoilers. Ninety-three polling stations have been set up for 107,311 registered voters in this constituency.
The contest for PS-11 is evenly poised with PPP’s Agha Taimoor Khan and bureaucrat-turned-politician Imtiaz Shaikh, general secretary of PML-F’s Sindh chapter, having equal support among voters.
Imtiaz Shiakh suffered a jolt after his brother, Maqbool Ahmed Shaikh, joined the PPP but he has appeared to have recovered his position now.
There are 12 other candidates in the run for the seat but it is difficult to easily predict the outcome of the polls. There are 105 polling stations for 127,236 registered voters in this constituency.
For PS-12, 11 contestants are in the fray. Prominent among them are; Allah Dino Khan Bhayo (PPP), Abid Hussain Jatoi (NPP) and Moulana Abdullah Pahor (JUI-F). Besides, there are seven independent candidates and an MQM nominee who will apparently only serve to spoil votes, say analysts.
There are 105 polling stations and 338 polling booths for 125,033 registered voters in this constituency.
Abid Hussain Jatoi, brother of Dr Ibrahim Jatoi, has a sizable support in the area and is seen as a strong candidate for the seat but he will have to struggle against Bhayo to clinch a win.