NAWABSHAH, Feb 13: Political activities, which came to a halt following the Dec 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, have again gained momentum in the Nawabshah district, which has a population of 11,02,583 and 6,32,070 registered voters.

It has two National Assembly and five provincial assembly seats. There are 619 polling stations, 178 which have been declared sensitive. The NA-213 seat covers Nawabshah and Daur talukas while NA-214 comprises Sakrand and Daulatpur talukas.

Provincial assembly seat PS-24 covers Nawabshah city and some adjoining rural areas; PS-25 consists of some parts of Jam Saheb and some areas of Daur; PS-26 comprises Bandhi, some areas of Daur and Daulatpur; PS-27 covers Sakrand taluka, and PS-28 covers Daulatpur taluka.

The PPP, MQM, PML-Q, PML-F, and PML-N are the main political parties of the district. The district is a stronghold of the PPP as the party swept all national and provincial assembly seats in the 2002 elections and remained dominant in local bodies with Faryal Talpur, sister of Asif Ali Zardari, becoming the district nazim, twice.

The assassination of Ms Bhutto has changed the political atmosphere and generated a sympathy wave for the PPP. Memories of Ms Bhutto are still fresh in the minds of the people as she visited Nawabshah a week before her assassination and addressed a public meeting at the Nawabshah Stadium, now renamed as the Benazir Stadium.

For NA-213, former MNA Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, another sister of Asif Ali Zardari’s, is contesting against PML-F candidate Syed Zahid Hussain Shah. Mr Shah lost the seat in the last elections to Dr Azra as the MQM did not support him. However, this time the MQM is supporting Mr Shah against the PPP candidate and a good fight is expected between the PPP and PML-F candidates in the constituency.

Former MNA Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah of the PPP is contesting against PML-Q district president and former minister Sardar Khan Mohammed Dahiri for NA-214. In the 2002 elections, Mr Shah defeated the PML-Q-backed Mumtaz Rahu with a good margin and his position again seems to be strong.

Tough competition is expected for PS-24, Nawabshah-I, where PPP’s ex-MPA Tariq Masood Arain is contesting against MQM’s Abdul Rasheed Arain alias Rasheed Bhaya. Tariq Masood defeated Rao Abdul Sami of the MQM in the 2002 elections.

Both the PPP and the MQM won the seat in the past but the Dec 27 tragic incident and the ensuing violence has made many people return to the PPP fold. Still, a neck and neck contest is expected.

Former MPA Ahmed Ali Jalbani of the PPP is contesting against Ali Nawaz Brohi of the PML-Q for PS-25, Nawabshah-II. Ahmed Ali Khan Jalbani defeated Ali Nawaz Brohi in 2002.

Syed Fasih Ahmed Shah of the PPP is contesting against Muzaffar Jamali of the PML-Q for PS-26, Nawabshah-III.

PPP’s former MPA Syed Ali Ahmed Shah defeated PML-Q’s Dr Bahadur Dahiri in the 2002 elections. Mr Jamali was with the PPP in the 2002 elections and grabbed a number of votes for the party due to his influence in the Jamali tribe. However, the sympathy wave may favour the PPP candidate in this constituency.