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HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peo­ples Party leader Malik Asad Sikandar — considered to be the ‘uncrowned king’ of Jamshoro’s hilly areas — will continue to rule the roost with a comprehensive victory of candidates with the party tickets and duly backed by him

on 26 out of 30 directly contested seats of the district council in the second phase of local government elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the polling for four seats of the district council and three seats of town committees for various reasons. Malik’s opponents could grab only a couple of seats.

The candidates fielded by the PPP and Malik took over two municipal committees (Kotri and Bholari) and three town committees (Thana Bula Khan, Sehwan and Bhan Saeedabad).

A date for polling in Jamshoro, Sann and Manjhand — where the Jeay Sindh Tehreek founder leader G.M. Syed’s grandson Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah and other family members wield influence — is to be announced later. “We did give a tough fight on Nov 19, but lost thanks to dirty politics,” says Mr Shah who heads the Sindh United Party (SUP). He vows to continue the fight with even greater valour for the remaining seats.

Malik Asad’s cousin Malik Changez of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had also fielded some candidates but failed to make any significant gains. Having four talukas — Manjhand, Sehwan, Thana Bula Khan and Kotri — Jamshoro district used to have 28 UCs to constitute one NA and three PA seats, the NA-231 Jamshoro-I, PS-71, PS-72 and PS-73. It has now 30 UCs.

Jamshoro is home to seats of higher learning and whose land has recently been allotted by the ministry of foreign affairs to the royal family of a friendly Arab state for hunting of the migratory bird houbara bustard. Malik Asad hosts the game for royal guests.

Politically, the district is more a Malik Asad territory than a PPP stronghold, a fact acknowledged by the party’s provincial chief and Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah while inaugurating a Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) warehouse off the Superhighway earlier this year. The fresh LG election results in the district endorses the view.

A tough contest ahead

After enjoying an easy win in most areas of his territory, Malik Asad may face a tough contest in the polling for the remaining areas of the district which form the Sann, Manjhand and Jamshoro town committees as well as Rahilo, Morho Jabal, Lakha and Shavez town committees. The must-watch arena will obviously be Sann, Syeds’ ancestral town where Munir Hyder Shah, another grandson of G.M. Syed, is vying for a town committee seat and challenges the PPP in other areas of the family’s influence. He is the fourth member of the late Syed’s family who is entering electoral politics. Previously, Jalal Shah’s father, Imdad Mohammad Shah, was elected to the Nawabshah district council. Later, he became an MPA from Sakrand in the 1985 partyless elections and won a PA seat in the 1988 general elections.

Imdad Shah’s paternal uncle, Amir Hyder Shah, remained an MNA in the 60s and then won the PS-59 Dadu-II seat in 1990 as an independent candidate.

Syed Jalal Shah was elected as an MPA from Dadu district in 1997 and held the slot of deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly. ‘Syed never thrust his own views on us”, adds Jalal. In the 2002 election for the PS-71, he lost to PPP’s Ghulam Nabi Shoro by a close margin. He also sided with former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim in the 2005 partyless LG elections and supported PML-Q candidate Mujeeb Jilani in February 10, 2007 by-poll for PS-71, which had fallen vacant due to Ghulam Nabi Shoro’s death. Jilani had won the seat beating Sikandar Shoro, now an MPA.

Malik Asad had quit PPP in 1996 due to his differences with Syed Abdullah Shah and joined the PML-N which gave him a provincial ministry in 1997.

He was first elected as district nazim of Dadu in 2001 and then became PPP-backed district nazim of Jamshoro, after it was carved

out as a district from Dadu during Dr Arbab Rahim’s government in December 2004 as a personal favour to Liaquat Jatoi whose son became Dadu’s district nazim in 2005.

Recently, Jalal Shah — a relative of the PPP’s Syed Murad Ali Shah — withdrew an SUP office-bearer, Roshan Burirro, in the latter’s favour to help him win uncontested the PS-73 by-election.

The seat was vacated by his cousin, Abdul Nabi Shah. Burirro had challenged his rival’s candidature in the Sindh High Court on the grounds of his dual nationality but withdrew the plea on Jalal Shah’s intervention.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2015