KARACHI – The Pakistan People’s Party Sindh has been pursuing a new and critical electoral strategy, in which influential personalities and feudal lords would be preferred to loyal workers and the general populace at large. Under this strategy, all those winnable or electable personalities would be given the ticket in the coming elections.

The PPP, which is under severe pressure due to its own follies and mis-governance for the last five years, has adopted the strategy to survive a tsunami of unpopularity. This policy is more evident in Thatta, Ghotki, Larkana, Naushehro Feroz and Jamshoro districts.

Jamshoro district, a mountainous area that houses Nooriabad industrial estate, is a stronghold of Malik Asad Sikandar. Due to the condition of graduation, Malik Asad was unable to contest the 2008 general elections, so he pitched his brother-in-law, Nawab Ghani Talpur from this district, on a PPP ticket. Now Malik Asad himself is a candidate.

PPP hierarchy is striving hard to elect Owais Muzaffar Tappi, the foster brother of President Asif Ali Zardari, at any cost, so efforts are underway to pitch him in the elections from a safe seat. The electable seat can be the constituency of Malik Asad.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Ms Faryal Talpur have contacted Malik Asad for this purpose, but failed to convince him. Now President Zardari during his recent visit contacted Malik Asad, who according to some reports, has agreed.

President Zardari inaugurated Drawat Dam located in Jamshoro district. This dam has the capacity to store around 12 million acre feet of rainwater. Thousands of acres of land would be brought under plough, and apparently it will be beneficial for Mr Malik directly or indirectly. Also in Thatta, the influential Shirazi family has said goodbye to the PML-Q and joined the PPP. After the departure of Shirazis, the PML-Q of Chaudhrys of Gujrat has lost its existence in Sindh.

Sardar Ghaus Bakhsh Mehar and his son, Sheharyar Mehar, have earlier left the Q-League.

Analysts are of the view that Shirazi brothers were the arch political rival of the PPP in Thatta district, but after their inclusion in the party, the district would face no challenge from any side, and the district has become a PPP stronghold. Though Sindh Minister for Culture Ms Sassui Palejo and PPP workers have expressed their resentment over this decision, but according to some reports, seat of Ms Palejo was given to Shirazi brothers under a deal.

Inclusion of Ghaus Bakhsh Mehar in the PML-F and seat-adjustment arrangements between the National People’s Party (NPP) and Pir Sahib Pagara has created an upset for the PPP. However, a balance was made after Maqbool Shaikh joined the PPP.

Now the arch PPP rival, Maqbool Shaikh, brother of PML-F Secretary Imtiaz Shaikh, will be PPP’s candidate on a seat won by Agha Taimur of the PPP in 2008.

Maqbool Shaikh has joined the PPP due to the efforts of Syed Khursheed Shah.

However, Agha Siraj Durrani and PPP leadership of Shikarpur were unhappy with party on this decision.

Parleys remained in progress for more than one-and-a-half years with Mehars brothers of Ghotki and Shirazis of Thatta to bring them into PPP folds. On the other hand, Ms Faryal Talpur personally visited the Almanis of Naushehro Feroz to bring them into the party folds. The PPP hierarchy has also approached such personalities in Dadu and Larkana.

This time at no stage neither party organisations nor activists were consulted.

Observers are of the view that this new policy of the PPP has a manifestation that the party needed Waderas rather than workers.

The inclusion of feudal lords and power individuals in the PPP by ignoring diehard workers indicates that the Waderas have become the fountain head of power instead of the masses. Political analysts recall the era of the 70s when Mirs, Pirs and Waderas had become the symbol of reproach and reprove and the slogan of ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ (food, clothing and shelter) was famous and dominant. Rights of labourers, peasants and students were the much trumpeted priority those days.

Now much water had flowed under the bridges and the PPP has approached the influential and powerful individuals and families not once but a number of times to bring them into the party folds, which shows the fear and apprehension of the party hierarchy that some powerful personality might challenge its writ in the province.  An insider said the party leadership is also afraid of the PML-N strategy of getting all anti-PPP electable into its folds, and hence adapted this policy.

Observers also cite the example of Sardar Ali Muhammad Khan Mehar, who spurned PPP ticket in 2002 and contested elections as an independent candidate and became chief minister of Sindh.