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Clans continue to hold sway on Sargodha politics

September 23, 2002


SARGODHA, Sept 22: The district which has five National and 11 provincial assembly seats has been, and still is, at the mercy of old clans. The graduation bar and accountability drive have failed to make any difference as influential families are very much in.

NA-64, SARGODHA-I: Comprising some parts of Bhalwal tehsil, Bhera, Miani, Bhalwal, Moazamabad and Jhawarian Town of Shahpur tehsil, this constituency is considered a stronghold of the Noons and Pirachas.

They had history of helping each other whenever an ‘outsider’ tried to enter this constituency.

They parted ways in the 1990 elections when Anwarul Haq Piracha defeated Malik Ahmed Khan Noon for the provincial assembly seat.

The Piracha family lost hold of this constituency when Ehsanul Haq Piracha, as the PPP nominee, was defeated by Brig Ghulam Hussain Cheema (retired), a PML-N nominee, in the 1993 elections.

The Pirachas helped Mian Naseer Ahmed win the elections of Bhalwal tehsil Nazim in 2001, although Mian Naseer had in past lost all the elections against them. Now to avail of the benefit of authority and funds of Bhalwal tehsil Nazim, the Pirachas offered the provincial seat to his son, Mian Qadeer Ahmed, (now a PPP nominee for PP-30).

For NA-66, the main contenders are Chaudhry Muhammad Ali of the PML-QA, Inamul Haq Piracha of the PPP and Pir Muhammad Ibrahim Shah of the PML-N.

Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the chairman of the Neelibar Group of Industries and the managing director of the Noon Textile Mills, Bhalwal, is known for his involvement in social works.

Former minister Ehsanul Haq Piracha, influential politician of the district, is making all-out efforts to win the seat for his brother, Inamul Haq Piracha. But the Pirachas face a strong challenge from Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, who will definitely take advantage of the anti-Piracha lobby. If he wins the sympathies of the Jamaat-i-Islami and like-minded people, he will create a lot of problems for Inamul. If some adjustment is made between the PML-N nominee and the JI, it will pave the way for Inam Piracha.

PML-N’s Pir Muhammad Ibrahim Shah enjoys the support of religious groups as his father, the late Pir Muhammad Karam Shah Al Azhari, was renowned religious scholar and had served as a judge of the Shariat Appellate Court.

Political analysts here are of the view that former MNA Malik Adnan Hayat Noon and District Nazim Malik Amjad Ali Noon would support the Pirachas as the Noons would not like to allow an outsider to take control of the politics of this area.

NA-65, SARGODHA-II: In this constituency tribes like Ranjhas, Melas, Badranas, Garas and Midhianas always played decisive role in the elections. It is for the first time that the area of Sargodha tehsil has been included. Although there are five candidates, the main contestants are Mehr Khalid Yar Khan Luk of the PPP, Ghias Ahmed Mela of the PML-QA and Ahtesham Ahmed Cheema of the PML-N.

Mehr Khaliq Yar Luk is a law graduate with a political background. Mehr Khuda Dad Khan Luk was elected as MNA in the Ayub era on the ticket of Convention League and in 1977 from NA-56 by defeating PNA candidate Mir Mazhir Hussain, advocate.

Mehr Khaliq Yar Luk having the PPP ticket, is gaining support from old as well as young parliamentarians. Former MPAs Shah Nawaz Ranjha, a PML-N leader, Saif Ranjha, Muhammad Aslam Midhiana and former MNA Chaudhry Liaquat Hayat Badrana have announced their support to him in addition to the Gara and Gondal tribes. Though the Ranjha tribe has been divided into three factions, the one led by Mian Manazir Ali Ranjha, ex-deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly, is supposed to favour the PML-QA nominee, Ghias Ahmed Mela.

The other tribe led by Mian Sher Ahmed Ranjha will support Ahtesham Ahmed Ranjha, a PML-N nominee, while a majority of the tribe is likely to support Mehr Khaliq Yar Luk.

NA-66, SARGODHA-III: This constituency consists of Sargodha city, the cantonment area and its suburbs. It was considered a stronghold of the PML-N. But this time the PML-N is finding it difficult to convince its electorate why its leader accepted exile only to avoid corruption cases.

There are 10 candidates in the field but the main contesting parties are the PML-N and the PPP.

Former MNA Chaudhry Abdul Hameed’s son, ex-Mayor Chaudhry Hamid Hameed, has been awarded the PML-N ticket but he is not pleased with two candidates contesting from PP-33 and PP-34, Abdul Razaq Dhilon and Ms Tayaba Zamir Qureshi respectively, falling in this constituency.

There are various biradaris, including Arain, Kamboh, Mughal, settlers and refugees. This constituency always remains at the mercy of these clans and rural areas attached with it play a decisive role.

Chaudhry Hamid Hameed is not the sole candidate from Arain biradari because the PML-QA has also fielded Mian Shahid Nazir, a lawyer, from this community. He will share a large number of votes of Arain, Kamboh and refugees. If the other candidates, including Dr Arshad Shahid of the MMA and Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi of the PPP campaign seriously they may derive maximum benefit from this tussle between two Arain candidates.

The MMA has an approximate vote bank of 20,000 but the PPP vote bank would never go in favour of the anti-PPP candidate even if nominated or adjustment made by party high commands. Hence, if Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi succeeded in bringing out the PPP voters from their houses, he would be successful, otherwise there is a golden chance for the MMA nominee.

Mutual differences have surfaced between the candidates. The PPP nominee is supporting the candidate of some other party in provincial assembly polls, while his party has nominated another person.

This seat was going in favour of the PPP nominees, but owing to change in the ticket for PP-33, the entire winning set-up was shaken and though Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi, former Tehsil Nazim, has accepted the PPP symbol, neither would he support the party’s nominee for PP-33 nor would Shoaib Awan back him.

The PPP is divided in this constituency as local leaders would not allow Shoaib Awan to win. So far, nothing is clear. NA-67, SARGODHA-IV: All the political parties have made this constituency a test case. It consists of Sillanwali tehsil and its adjoining areas, the native constituency of Chaudhry Anwar Ali Cheema, who had set a record of achieving the highest lead against Dr Khalid Ranjha, the present federal law minister, in the 1985 elections when Mr Cheema had received almost double the votes bagged by Mr Ranjha.

In 1997, he enhanced his lead up to 42,000 votes. He had won the election as MNA five times consecutively and was now waiting for his sure shot victory for the sixth time despite the unity of all the parties.

The MMA nominee is Shamas Naveed Cheema and the PPP nominee is former federal minister Hafeezullah Cheema. He, as railway minister, had rigged the polls in 1977, creating trouble for the PPP, and faced a criminal case filed against him by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Though Mr Anwar Cheema faced charges of corruption levelled by his opponents, none of them was able to establish any allegation against him. He has a hold in the area and his daughter-in-law, Mrs Tanzeela Aamer Cheema, a former chairperson of Zila Council, and his son, Chaudhry Aamer Sultan Cheema, jointly served the people.

Anwar Cheema, the co-ordinator of the PML-QA’s Sargodha division, is holding the party ticket as well. This family obtained one ticket for NA and two tickets for the provincial assembly and reserved NA seat for women. His nephew is also contesting for a provincial seat as his father, Chaudhry Farrukh Javed Ghuman, faced trial under NAB and was recently released after a deal.

On Sunday, some local PPP leaders having considerable following lent their support to Anwar Cheema.

NA-68, SARGODHA-V: This constituency which earlier consisted of Shahpur tehsil and some portion of Khushab district, has now been separated from the Soan Valley of Khushab and comprises Shahpur and Sahiwal tehsils.

Malik Naeem Khan and his nominees have been dominating this constituency since 1985 but the provincial seats remained under the influence of the Qureshi family.

Mazhar Ahmed Qureshi, elected MPA from Shahpur Tehsil, played a major role in the victory of District Nazim Malik Amjad Ali Noon. He has resigned as Naib Nazim and also made a compromise with Mian Ilyas Qureshi, who won the election for the provincial assembly from Sahiwal tehsil and was not on visiting terms with Mazhar Qureshi.

PML-QA’s divisional coordinator is also in the field and obtained the symbol of peacock as an independent candidate. It is all due to Mr Qureshi’s reported violation of the party verdict.

Muhammad Ali Raza Khan Lehri, the son of Sahiwal tehsil Nazim, has been awarded PML-QA ticket but Mazhar Ahmed Qureshi refused to accept him as a candidate from PP-37 and was reportedly supporting Maj Asghar Hayat Kalyar (retired), an independent candidate.

Mr Qureshi has an old political rivalry with the Sahiwal Nazim and to set him right the divisional coordinator decided to file his nomination papers himself only to put pressure on Mr Qureshi who has influence in the area.

One of his brothers, Muhammad Ismael Qureshi, remained the secretary of the Punjab Health Department. Another brother, Zafar Qureshi, is a senior superintendent of police.