JHANG:Treasury MNAs Sahibzada Nazir Sultan and Ghulam Bibi Bharwana who joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in a meeting with Imran Khan in Bani Gala on Thursday, have a track record of changing their parties ahead of elections.

Mr Sultan has contested 10 elections for the National Assembly, and of them he won six on the tickets of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), PPP and PML-Q and also as independent candidate. Ms Bharwana has contested three NA elections, winning all of them on the PML-Q and PML-N tickets.

Mr Sultan first appeared on the political horizon in the 1970 general elections on the JUP ticket and playing the sectarian card, defeated the virtually invincible Muhammad Arif Khan Sial. After the elections, the Sahibzada played the first desertion of his political life and joined the PPP. He won the 1977 elections on the PPP ticket but left it after the 1977 coup, when the PPP was under fire.

He joined hands with Gen Ziaul Huq and got inducted his elder brother, Sahibzada Majeed Sultan, in Majlis-i-Shura. In 1985, his arch rival Arif Sial struck back and defeated him in the party-less elections. When the Zia era was over in 1988, Mr Sultan rejoined the PPP and was elected MNA in 1988, 1990 and 1993 elections. He was given the portfolio of minister of state for foreign affairs in the Benazir Bhutto cabinet.

After PPP’s humiliating defeat in the 1997 elections, Mr Sultan again left the PPP and joined the PML-N. After the 1999 military takeover, he saw his destination in the Gen Pervez Musharraf’s camp. He contested the 2002 elections on the PML-Q ticket and was defeated by first-timer Saima Akhtar Bharwana.

In the 2008 elections, Mr Sultan tried his luck as independent candidate but again lost to Ms Bharwana. In the 2013 elections, he won as an independent candidate defeating PML-N’s Ms Bharwana. In the 2013 assembly, Mr Sultan sat on the treasury seats for five years until now, when he joined the PTI.

The other new face in the PTI is MNA Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, the maternal granddaughter and political heir to Ghulam Haider Bharwana who also won the 1970 elections on the JUP ticket, defeating retired Col Syed Abid Hussain. Mr Bharwana died before the 1985 elections. He is survived by one daughter who has no interest in politics. The political family made a comeback in the 2002 election when Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, granddaughter of Ghulam Haider, won the elections and joined the ruling PML-Q. She won the 2008 elections again on the PML-Q ticket until 2013 when she left the PML-Q for greener pastures in the PML-N. She won the elections for the third consecutive time and remained loyal to Sharifs till May 17.

It has yet to be seen if Saima Akhtar Bharwana who defeated Mr Sultan in 2002 and 2008 elections would be a PML-N candidate for the 2018 elections or not.

Ghulam Bibi Bharwana is facing hard times because of the delimitation as her stronghold areas have gone to three other constituencies. She is likely to contest elections either from NA-100 or NA-115. The PML-N and the PPP have yet to come up with their candidates from these constituencies.

The list of fresh faces in the PTI also includes Mehr Aslam Bharwana, who was elected MPA on the ticket of the PML-N several times. The PML-N is not likely to be bothered about him as his younger brother Sultan Siknadar Bhrwana lost the 2013 elections to independent candidate Khuram Sial who later joined the PML-N. The party is likely to award ticket to Sial and for these reasons, Aslam Bharwana joined the PTI.

Other political figures in the Bani Gala meeting were former MPAs Sheikh Muhammad Yaqoob and his spouse Rashida Yaqoob, who were recently cleared by the court to contest elections. They may not be so good to the PTI in the elections 2018 as the couple is heavily dependent on the support and vote bank of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat).

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2018