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Same old new Pakistan


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HARIPUR: Farzana Yousaf finds it amusing that her husband is being forced to work with her cousin. “My cousin and I come from the Raja family. My husband comes from the Tareens. Our families have dominated politics in Haripur for the last many decades — and, usually, the families are at loggerheads in elections. This time, these two men will be fighting from the same Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) ticket,” says Ms Yousaf.

Ms Yousaf is sitting in her mother-in-law’s mansion, just a few hours after Yousaf Ayub Khan (her husband) and Raja Aamir Zaman (her cousin) joined PTI chairman Imran Khan on the stage during a euphoric Haripur rally. Addressing thousands of energetic, flag-waving supporters, Imran repeated his message of change: “Get on your bikes and your motorbikes, your cars and onto the street, and vote on May 11. Vote for a new Pakistan.”

But while Imran is a new player on Pakistan’s political scene, the silver-haired Yousaf or the plump Aamir are tried and tested members of the Haripur elite. Their families are so embedded in the power structure of this part of the Hazara belt, that the PTI’s main rival in the elections, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has handed its tickets to the same families. Aamir will be fighting Mr Yousaf’s cousin, Omar Ayub Khan of the PML-N, for the NA-19 seat, and Omar Ayub’s PML-N colleague on the PK-50 seat (that Mr Yousaf is contesting from) will be none other than Aamir’s younger brother, Raja Faisal Zaman. Unlike his older, PTI brother, Mr Zaman will be competing on a PML-N ticket.

“Yes, we are contesting from opposing parties, but so what?” says Omar Ayub to Dawn. Omar Ayub, who has already switched from the PML-N to Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and back again, says it is important to remember that people from the same family can have different politics. “I disagree with my cousin. And Faisal disagrees with his brother,” says Omar Ayub.

Mr Yousaf agrees. “I have been a PML-N supporter my entire life, but left the party after they supported the renaming of the province to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. My politics is very different from my cousin’s. When he joined PML-Q, I did not agree to follow him out of the PML-N. There is no reason I should agree now,” says the PTI candidate, as he makes his way from one corner meeting to the next. “Having said that, there is little doubt that we, the Tareens, have a stable vote bank in Haripur.”

The situation in Haripur, where PTI’s reliance on the same old families means they have fielded candidates related to PML-N politicians, repeats itself across the Hazara belt. A PTI worker from Mansehra, who prefers not to be named, says that the PTI’s decision to award the ticket for NA-20 to the wealthy Azam Khan of the Swati family has backfired. “Swati is supporting his brother, Laiq Mohammad Khan, in NA-21, instead of his party colleague Nawabzada Salahuddin Saeed. There were many of us who were less than enthusiastic that he got the ticket,” says the worker.

Fortunately for Mr Saeed, he might not need the support. Mr Saeed is the present chief of the Tanolis, a family that primarily inhabits the Hazara belt’s Tanawal Valley. Known for his frequent flip-flopping between parties (PML-N, PML-Q and now PTI – when he is not running as an independent), Mr Saeed has won the national assembly seat from Mansehra’s NA-21 four times. Mr Saeed is a member of the old guard and will be counting more on his vote bank than the PTI’s message of change to secure a win from the seat that has eluded him in the last two elections.

Tit-for-tat politics “Imran approached me two or three times before I said yes. I think he felt that we could be of service to each other,” says Dr Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon, at a corner meeting with loudspeakers blaring balla ballads about Imran. Dr Jadoon is campaigning in Abottabad, where he is hoping to win from the city’s NA-17 seat.

NA-17, like the rest of the Hazara belt, is a PML-N stronghold. Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan has won this seat in every election since 1990 (except in 2002, when he was rounding up a three year sentence at Attock Fort). Though Dr Jadoon has yet to win the national assembly spot, he has secured 30,000 votes in the last two elections. Kamran Advocate, an Abottabad analyst, says that another Jadoon (Amanullah Jadoon) cut into Dr Jadoon’s votes. This time around, Amanullah Jadoon is not contesting after rumours that the powerful Jadoon family has agreed to support just one candidate on a PTI ticket. The hope is that the two Jadoon vote banks could be combined to beat the heavyweight PML-N adversary.

Whether the PTI’s choice to field Jadoon was an astute decision or not remains to be seen, says another PTI worker who preferred to remain unnamed. Rather, the mathematical and calculated negotiations within the Jadoons and between Dr Jadoon and Mehtab Khan betrays the logic of how PTI has distributed its tickets — ie less on the basis of a message and hope for real change, and more on the assessment that betting on the right horse might land the PTI a significant percentage of the national assembly seats.

Rumours within the PTI indicate that the party’s loyalists are especially concerned about the logic behind PTI ticket distribution. The majority of PTI tickets have not gone to those who have worked to build the party organisation. Ali Asghar Khan, one of the party workers, and a senior member of the PTI, is reportedly upset with the party and rarely shows up at PTI events aimed at supporting Jadoon. “That is only because our schedules do not fit,” says Dr Jadoon, when asked about Ali Asghar’s absence.

“People who know Abottabad speak of an anti-Jadoon, and pro-Jadoon vote. The PTI candidate would fall into the latter category. The PTI has bet on a family that has significant clout in this part of the country,” says the local analyst, Kamran Advocate. Whether the PTI will have the same face in power, with its line-up of old-timers from the Hazara region, as it has had outside of power, remains to be seen.

Comments (31) Closed

Usman May 09, 2013 11:37pm
i would gladly vote for PTI, regardless of who is in the party, why? Because change starts from the top and the top post is occupied by IK.
Majid May 09, 2013 06:41pm
I think the editor is spreading confusion.
Fahim Mirza May 10, 2013 01:31am
Many areas in Pakistan still vote for families then ideology. Therefore, in order to have any chance of winning any election and bring change, sometimes there is no other choice. The real question is will a small percentage of the ticket holders like this influence how PTI would like to govern the country?. The answer is NO. First, the MNA's and MPA's won't get any development fund. Second, history tells us that only few members in the assemble actually work on law making and others support the bills the party move. Therefore, there will be no harm in having few bad apples because they won't be able to do any harm. What we are sure about is that PTI's top leadership and the team have most sincere and competent people we got in 66 years. These people will help Imran Khan to fix the broken system and give the power to real people who are suffering the most. All other parties are fighting to preserve the status quo from which they have been benefiting for far too long at the expense of Pakistani people and PTI is working to break this status quo. Without this change the power will always remain with the few. DON'T BE AN IDEALIST. PLEASE VOTE FOR PTI
Ali May 09, 2013 03:56pm
Even it includes some old faces with a NEW captain, can it be any worse than those who have been tested 5 times and failed.
Nasr May 09, 2013 03:38pm
and I hope will give them all a fair try and he will not stick to the players who cannot deliver and also he will not select the darlings from the crowd.
Asad Khan May 10, 2013 04:59am
More propaganda from Dawn. This is the second such article in 2 days and just 2 days before a historic election that the whole country has been waiting for. Those who don't know how decisions of national interest were made in Pakistan by political governments should desist from passing judgements if the country will change or not. This is perhaps the first time in Pakistan's history that there is any viable option for the voters. An option which will lead with integrity, vision and a desire to take the country forward.
Khan May 09, 2013 05:35pm
Give he country back to the British, but they don't want it.
F.Abassi May 09, 2013 08:42pm
What would a best doctor in the entire world would do with out proper nursing staff and good operation theater? Pakistani society needs major brain surgery.
ahmed May 10, 2013 04:38am
these forklift are to use pallets of wood where you put boxed cartons,etc. not to raise live object and that too with one too many and no guards/rails,etc. this was the height of lack of any safety concern...we are concerned with security but alas safety is taken for granted...i am sure if we run some statistics, we have more people killed because of lack of safety , than lack of security.
Usman786 May 10, 2013 02:41am
if the leader at top is not for corruption, minister cannot dare to be corrupt. A minister may be efficient but he can only influence other depts and PM. so PM has to be a good man who can deliver, has a vision and ability to control his team
MEEE May 09, 2013 08:42am
Sadly you don't understand. The leader is different. They will obey his rules and working methodology. And they haven't even done anything that you start judging them now. Its a typical Pakistani thought which does not let us move forward. IK has defeated these thoughts before and will defeat them again.
a. khan May 09, 2013 08:14pm
what matters most, who is the leader of the party. In Imran khan, there's an honest and hard working leadership.
TKhan May 09, 2013 08:19pm
We are here Doc. Can't read your own handwriting!
shuja May 09, 2013 10:41pm
What you should realize is that Imran khan has to work with the system to get to the top. He can not end the biradari and feudalistic system just by himself. He himself admitted that he has made mistakes on some constituencies by choosing tried and tested people, but his hands are tied here. He can not make a naya pakistan if he does not select people like these in certain areas. Which leader will admit there mistakes 2 days before elections, but imran khan did. He deliberately made those mistakes in his endeavour to make a new pakistan. He has categorically said that if people who have tainted pasts will not work according to his vision , they will be thrown. If he turns a blind eye to corrupt people in his govt, then we have reason to complain, but not now.
MAlvi May 09, 2013 09:39am
I read part of the article, but gave up in the middle, because it is too long to read in one sitting. One beauty of writing is "be brief."
rehan May 09, 2013 10:11pm
there is no problem in choosing electable candidates... But MQM was the only party that made people electables on the basis of the party ticket. this time people should voting to the party not to the electable. MQM gained power but did little for karachi.. why ... even with 90% votes they did not deliver ..from what was expected.. This time is change too and PTI will get the vote but could they change a new pakistan ....I hope yes... but for sure we have to wait and see,,
Ali Bajwa May 09, 2013 09:46am
What ever you say.. This time its PTI !!!
Alan from UK May 09, 2013 10:18am
let him come to power and then he will straighten them up. change is a process and doesnt happen overnight
Mir May 09, 2013 09:59pm
People of Pakistan are given a third choice and by far a much better choice. "Tried and tested" people author spoke of joining PTI are definitely better people then the rest. You are looking for Angels, wait for afterlife.
doctor May 09, 2013 10:52am
surprising! PTI's cyber brigade which always rushes to comment and vote in each & every corner of the net whether necessary or not, is absent here! reality bites
Farwa May 09, 2013 11:44am
Its the Captin who leads his team, its the leader who leads his party. We have to give him a chance before declaring him.
TKhan May 09, 2013 07:45pm
It is a known fact that influential and elite families dominate the politics of deep rural areas of Pakistan. The expectations that IK and PTI will be able to change this phenomenon overnight is mind boggling. After all politics is a game of alliances and at times to win one has to make strange alliances. In the past the politicians shook peoples' hands before elections and shook their confidence and trust afterwards. Perhaps, this time it may not happen if the top leadership is honest, and that is quite obvious. Imran Khan cannot perform miracles, just try and trying he is. If just a little good can come out of this Man's efforts then it is that much good in 65 years of Pakistan. .
kashif May 09, 2013 01:17pm
what is the point of this article.....I don't understand, what we Pakistanis we have a choice but Imran to start the 'change'......those have been in govt. have the experience of running a govt. Nobody is stopping anybody for not to vote PPP and PML again....its your choice to keep on suffering and complaining....
Yousuf May 09, 2013 01:41pm
To All Poitical Parties and Leaders. Safety First 1. Forklifts are made with 2 side railings at 24 inch height and at 48 inch height . They are vital to protect Fall. The Forklift as appeared on TV was loaded with some tables or other wooden material , making the 48" railing only about 25-30' 2.On a moving Forklift every one must wear fall protection system which should be tied to the railing. Dear Leader you are so much concerned about our safety. The feeling is same . We are more concerned about Your safety Kindly Use the safety precautions.
Maya May 09, 2013 02:17pm
I am glad IK is finally becoming a bit of a realist. For all his vision and principles sadly our national cannot rise above the cast and constituency based politics. I am glad he has selected the candidates wisely. Change comes from the top. Go PTI !!!
Sarwat Hasan May 09, 2013 04:42pm
Its the leadership that matters. For e.g. Our holy prophet (PBUH) straightened out generations. Some still bad followers but the fact remains. If the guy at the helm is straight, sub-ordinates tend to follow. He has to lead by example.
imran khan May 10, 2013 05:15am
the last chance for the youth to save pakistan
BK May 10, 2013 05:28am
I don't get the point of this article. Seriously guys what is it that we want? I mean how many times are we going to repeat that IKs team is made up of old faces? At least his face is new, shouldn't we try at least one new face? or would you rather complain about IKs team being made up of old faces and end up electing a completely old and tested face? For God's sake give a man a chance...PLEASE!!!
Tariq May 10, 2013 07:36am
In NA 53 he left a 17 year old loyalists of PTI (we supported him) but the tickets were given to turncoats, very sad and what CHANGE
sami May 10, 2013 08:46am
I guess the author want Imran Khan to award tickets to Angels or imported politicians from abroad. Its all about leadership which can make or break the sequence of a right or wrong path. Imran Khan being staunch and honest could twist the arms of those awardes who by all means are Pakistanis to behave the way PTI wants it and he promised about that.
Miandad May 10, 2013 09:56am
The problem here is that after the 18th amendment, the vast majority of power now lies with the provinces and not the federal government. Imran Khan might not have corruption allegations levied against him, but the people in his party do, and it is usually the party members that grease the wheels of corruption rather than the party heads.