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THATTA: Political pundits’ projections that Pakistan Peoples Party will be able to win unopposed all seven seats of National and provincial assemblies in Thatta and Sujawal in the wake of re-entry into the party of highly influential Shirazis have been proved wrong as candidates of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) refuse to bow out without a fight.

Shirazis, who were well-known for their fickleness, managed to re-enter the party and obtain three tickets as well — despite resistance by workers and local leaders — with the help of two PPP leaders thought to be close to Faryal Talpur and Ali Hassan Zardari, a close relative of party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, said sources who wished not to be named.

The sources said that the objective behind Shirazis’ induction was to ensure the party retained all seats in both the districts. It was generally believed that after the party awarded tickets to Syed Ayaz Ali Shah Shirazi for NA-231 (Sujawal), Shah Hussain Shah Shirazi for PS-75 (Sujawal-I) and Syed Riaz Hussain Shah Shirazi for PS-77 (Thatta-I) there would be no election at all since the Shirazis were strong enough to win the seats unopposed, said the sources.

But it did not happen as the candidates of PTI, GDA and even independents firmly stood their ground and showed no signs of bowing out without a fight.

Besides Shirazis, the other PPP candidates for the remaining four seats in both the districts are; Ms Shamsunnisa Memon (NA-232), Haji Ali Hassan Zardari (PS-78), Jam Owais Gohram (PS-79) and Mohammad Ali Malkani, chieftain of Jat tribe, (PS-76).

The PTI’s Arsalan Brohi is contesting NA-232 (Thatta) and PS-77 (Thatta-I), Ms Zaib Niazi, wife of former PPP MPA Haji Usman Jalbani, is in the race for PS-78 (Ghorabari) on a PTI ticket and Ayaz Lashari of GDA is readying to take on PPP’s Jam Owais Gohram for PS-79 (Mirpur Sakro).

It is premature to assess how much damage lesser-known candidates will do to stronger PPP candidates.

Some contestants do appear formidable like Ms Zaib Niazi who is gaining sympathies by claiming that PPP had betrayed her late husband by awarding the ticket to former MPA Owais Muzaffar aka Tappi in last general election and this time also the party did not consider any member of his family for the ticket.

PTI’s Arsalan Brohi, a new entrant in the political scene of Thatta was up till now a lesser-known figure but his enthusiasm and energy in running his campaign and regularly convening corner meetings will soon make his opponents realise his worth and mettle.

GDA maintains active existence in the coastal belt of Thatta which can turn into a bastion of power for the alliance provided GDA general secretary and chairman of Qaumi Awami Tehreek Ayaz Latif Palijo spares time to visit his native district and sway voters of PS-79 (Mirpur Sakro) through his fiery speeches to cast votes in favour of GDA candidate Ayaz Lashari and against Jam Owais Gohram.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018