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Profiles of PPP, Muttahida Candidates

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Rehman Malik
Rehman Malik

DOCTOR SNOOP

Formerly a director at the Federal Investigation Agency, Rehman Malik incurred the ire of militants in 1995 over the arrest and extradition of the convict of World Trade Center bombing Ramzi Yousef.

Born in Sialkot in 1951, Mr Malik, who prefers to be referred to as a doctor after receiving an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Karachi in 2011, was a trusted aide to the slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto during the days of her self-exile in Europe and till Dec 27, 2007, when she was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack in Rawalpindi.

It was in Dr Malik’s house in London where the famed Charter of Democracy was signed between Ms Bhutto and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. He also acted as a go-between in talks between Ms Bhutto and former military ruler, retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Mr Malik started his career in 1973 and worked in various capacities before his swift ascent finally culminated in his becoming an adviser to the prime minister on interior after the PPP’s victory in the 2008 general election. He was later elected senator from Sindh in 2009 and appointed federal minister for interior.

In June 2012, the Supreme Court suspended his senate membership for holding dual nationality. He later resigned as a senator but was again elected senator and subsequently made interior minister again.

THIRD-TIME LUCKY

Islamu-ddin Shaikh started his political career in 1979 as chairman of the Sukkur municipal committee when he was only 28. The committee was soon raised to the status of municipal corporation and he became its first elected mayor in 1980.

He was re-elected mayor during 1983 when Sindh was in turmoil with violent strikes in the backdrop of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.

Born in 1951 in Sukkur, Mr Shaikh is among those politicians who were patronised by the military regime of Gen Zia. After having obtained a BA degree from the Islamia College Sukkur, he opted for agriculture and then industrial management which he inherited.

Islamu-ddin Shaikh
Islamu-ddin Shaikh

In 1985, he forsook his mayoral seat for higher ambitions, successfully fought a National Assembly seat in party-less elections and grabbed the portfolio of production ministry.

He had excellent rapport with the late Pir Mardan Shah Pagara that catapulted him to the senate for the first time in 1988. He won the senate seat again in 1997.

During his time in prison in graft cases brought by retired Gen Musharraf’s regime, he developed good relations with former president Asif Ali Zardari, which remained unaffected despite Mr Shaikh’s altercations with fellow party man from Sukkur Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah over the election of his son Nauman Shaikh on NA-198 during the 2013 elections.

Mr Shaikh was rewarded with a PPP ticket in 2009 mainly for his close relations with Mr Zardari, which stood him in good stead again as he managed to clinch the senate ticket.

FLYING HIGH

Born in 1959, Saleem Mandviwalla belongs to the family that has been in the real estate business in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan since 1921. The family expanded their business to different trades locally and internationally and owned businesses in the manufacturing, media and automobile sectors.

Mr Mandviwalla graduated from a school of aviation in Fortworth, Texas, in 1981. He had no experience of politics until the PPP won 2008 elections and formed its government in Islamabad where he had been appointed chairman of the Board of Investment in October 2008 because of his close association with party co-chairperson and then president Asif Ali Zardari.

Saleem Mandviwalla
Saleem Mandviwalla

He was elected on a vacant general seat of the senate on Nov 8, 2012, from Sindh on the PPP’s ticket and then appointed minister of state for finance. He was elevated to federal minister for finance in February 2013 for just over a month after Abdul Hafeez Shaikh abruptly resigned from the post.

Prior to his foray into politics, he was president of the Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

A hardcore PPP worker, Engineer Gyanchand Meghwar is the first Dalit ever to secure a ticket from any political party and contest election on the senate’s general seat.

THE GUTSY DALIT

Engineer Gyanchand is the son of a primary schoolteacher and his selection is considered by many as a political miracle. Party loyalists proudly present his case as proof that the PPP “is the only political party that truly cares for the rights of the underprivileged and the oppressed communities”.

“The decision shows that Pakistan has a progressive and egalitarian political vision,” says another party worker from the Dalit community.

Engineer Gyanchand
Engineer Gyanchand

He was second-time lucky as his application in the 2012 senate elections was turned down.

Mr Meghwar had contested for the first time for the Sindh Assembly in 1993 when separate electorates for minorities were in force and returned to the house.

He was pitted against Arbab Ghulam Rahim on a general seat in Tharparkar in the 2002 elections which he lost and Mr Rahim eventually became Sindh’s chief minister.

With Mr Rahim’s iron grip in the district those days, Mr Meghwar’s unwavering stand against him is considered an act of valour.

Party leaders say he won the ticket for his courage. However, it is not known whether it was the last act of sacrifice by him since one of the PPP’s new senators might have to vacate the seat for Sherry Rehman whose two-year grace period after she left the office of ambassador ends on May 20.

Out of sight, out of mind

Abdul Latif Ansari has been in politics for the past four decades, but remains largely unknown on the political spectrum on account of his preference to go apolitical once his tenure of a post expires.

He made his first stint as a member of the senate way back in 1975 during the term of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and left the political scene after the parliament was disbanded by Gen Zia in the wake of a bloodless coup in 1977.

Abdul Latif Ansari
Abdul Latif Ansari

He was elected senator again from Sindh in 2003 and remained in office till 2006. It is the third time he contested for the senate on a general seat from the platform of the same party.

He belongs to a business family and, sources in the PPP say, his success in winning the ticket may be attributed to his younger brother’s good relations with the PPP co-chairperson.

Khushbakht in politics also

An orator, compere and educationist, Khushbakht Shujaat was a public figure in her own right even before she ventured into politics over eight years ago.

Having an illustrious career spanning over three decades as an eminent showbiz personality, Ms Shujaat’s decision to join the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in February 2007 had surprised even her close friends who thought it was not wise for her to join an ethnic party.

Khushbakht Shujaat
Khushbakht Shujaat

By the end of 2007, she was awarded a party ticket to contest a National Assembly seat (NA-250) in the February 2008 general election and she won the seat easily.

Widely considered to be one of the few ‘soft faces’ of the MQM, Ms Shujaat is a staunch advocate of gender equality and takes pride in mentioning the fact that she is among a very few women who entered parliament by contesting a direct election.

She lost the May 11, 2013 general election for NA-250 after her party boycotted re-polling on certain polling stations.

Born in India, Ms Shujaat, then Khushbakht Aalia, migrated to Pakistan along with her parents. She obtained a Master’s in journalism from Karachi University.

A recipient of the Pride of Performance award, she was elected vice president of the Karachi Arts Council. She is also running a school in the city.

On Thursday, she made her way into the upper house of the parliament after winning a senate general seat.

THE OUTSIDER

Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh began his political career by joining the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in February 2012 and after mere three years, the party’s top leadership favoured him over several other senior leaders by awarding him a senate ticket from Sindh despite the fact that he originally belongs to Punjab.

Hailing from Rawalpindi and a businessman by profession, Mr Shaikh had no prior political experience other than holding different offices in various trade and industrial bodies of the garrison city.

Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh
Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh

He became a member of the MQM’s central executive committee and soon made it to the coordination committee in 2013. Next year, MQM supremo Altaf Hussain chose him as the first president of the MQM’s Punjab chapter.

There is some resentment in the party over the distribution of senate tickets to Mr Shaikh and Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, who has already been elected unopposed on a seat reserved for technocrats.

It is not known why Mr Hussain favoured a Punjab-based candidate over seasoned leaders like former Hyderabad nazim Kanwar Naveed or ex-MNA and home adviser Waseem Akhtar or even Aamir Khan.

According to Mr Shaikh’s own website, he is the founder and chief executive of the Shalimar Group of Companies, which is involved in diverse activities of manufacturing, hospitality management, international trading and exports.

He has business interests in the UAE, as he is also a member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. He was the chairman of the All Pakistan Particleboard Manufactures Association and All Pakistan Hotels Association.

Published in Dawn March 6th, 2015

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