New alignments in DG Khan before polls

The politics in Dera Ghazi Khan is probably the most complex of the three divisions of South Punjab. Half of this division — Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur districts — is considered tribal belt. Political parties have very little to do here as tribal chiefs play key role in the success or failure of any candidate and almost all candidates come from major tribes like the Legharis, Khosas, Mazaris, Qaisranis, Buzdaars, Gorchanis, Dareshaks, Loonds and Khawajgaans. Nevertheless, parties do matter when it comes to politicking in the remaining two districts: Muzaffargarh and Layyah. Similarly, it’s the area, where the slogan of Saraiki province may affect the results of upcoming elections as well. The population is predominantly Saraiki speaking and the slogan may attract them. A rumor is circulating in the media that the representatives of major clans from the entire South Punjab came together some days ago and discussed a proposal regarding contesting upcoming elections on the slogan of Saraiki province from the platform of an independent group. The current seat position shows that out of a total of 11 National Assembly seats, five are held by PPP, four by PML-Q and two by PML-N. However, many important changes have taken place since the last elections.  The Legharis stood by PML-Q in last election, but now they have joined hands with Imran Khan’s PTI. Similarly, the Khosas also appear to be split and there are reports, though unconfirmed yet, that Sardar Saif Khosa, MNA from NA-173, might quit PML-N.Of the five National Assembly seats of Dera Ghazi Khan district, three were won by PML-Q (that was backed by the Legharis) and one each by PML-N and PPP. The constituency of NA-171 (Dera Ghazi Khan-I) was won by Khawaja Sheraz Mehmood of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid with 39,628 votes. Independent candidate, Amjad Farooq Khosa, was the runner up with over 36,000 votes. Khosa has now joined PML-N while two influential tribes — the Buzdars and Qaisranis — learnt to have withdrawn their support to Khawaja Sheraz. Now it appears that the PML-N might succeed in capitalising on the situation. The constituency of NA-172 (Dera Ghazi Khan-II) was won by Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Laghari on the ticket of PML-Q. He scored 61, 918, defeating Hafiz Abdul Karim of PML-N with a margin of over 20,000 votes. The Legharis have switched loyalties and now they will contest election on PTI ticket. Latest reports suggest that the Legharis may even jump into PML-N, because they complain Imran Khan did not give them the status and protocol they were expecting of him. However, the situation will get clear in the near future. Sardar Muhammad Saif-ul-Din Khan Khosa of PML-N defeated Awais Leghari of PML-Q in NA-173 (DG Khan-III). However, he is learnt to have developed serious differences with both the party and family and is likely to join any other platform. The constituency of NA-174 (Rajanpur-1) was won by Sardar Jafar Khan Leghari of PML-Q who secured 50,440 votes. His closest rival, an independent candidate, Sardar Nasrullah Khan Dareshak could clinch over 40,000 votes. The way the situation is taking turn in this constituency is very interesting, as PPP’s candidate Kh Kaleem Koreja, who got more than 30 thousand votes in 2008, has joined PML-N while the Leghari Gorchani alliance that played key role in success of Jaffar Leghari is no more. However, a new alliance between the Dareshaks and the Legharis is also on the cards and if it happens, Jaffar Leghari will benefit from it. The last election from NA-175 (Rajanpur-11) was won by Meer Dost Muhammad Mazari of Pakistan People’s Party. He got 78,427 votes while Sardar Nasarullah Dareshak of PML-Q stood runner up with over 46,000 votes. The Muzaffargarh district turned out to be a castle of PPP in 2008 as all four National Assembly seats of this district were won by its candidates. Since a number of developments have taken place, PPP might not be able to bag the seats like it did in the past. Both PML-N and PTI have gained strength in the recent past. Former tehsil nazim and MPA Abdullah Shah stands with PML-N, while former MNA Jamil Shah has joined PTI. As per results, the constituency of NA-176 (Muzaffargarh-I) was won by PPP’s Muhammad Mohsin Ali Qureshi. He secured 50,826 votes. Political observers anticipate a tough contest in this constituency in the next elections, as the Hinjras have further improved their position. Malik Ghulam Qasim Hinjra of PML-Q was the runner up with 46,745 votes while Mian Muhammad Arshad Abbas Qureshi of PML-N stood third with 42,225 votes. The PPP finds itself between a rock and a hard place in NA-177 (Muzaffargarh-II). Current Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar won election from this constituency on PPPP ticket in 2008. She secured 84,916 votes while Khalid Ahmad Gurmani of PML-Q was runner up with 50,834 votes. However, a colleague parliamentarian – Jamshed Dasti, PPP’s MNA from NA-178, has started his campaign from this constituency too. Despite party warnings, he continues campaigning. This situation may become favourable for the candidates of other parties. The NA-178 (Muzaffargarh-III) constituency is won twice by Sardar Jamshed Khan Dasti of PPP. He did win in the 2008 general elections but was later disqualified by the Supreme Court in a fake degree case. He ran again and won the by-poll by defeating Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmad Khan of Pakistan Democratic Party. Now Nawabzada Iftikhar has joined PML-N. The way Jamshed Dasti does the politics is very popular with residents of this constituency and he is ranked as one of the most popular political leaders. The situation has, however, changed in NA-179 (Muzaffargarh-IV), where major developments took place in the near past. Sardar Muhammad Moazam Ali Khan Jatoi of PPP got 79,643 votes from this constituency defeating Makhdom Zada Syed Basit Ahmad Sultan Bukhari of PML-Q, who got 60,637 votes. However, the Bokhari group has joined PML-N. With this alignment, the position of PML-N has improved considerably. Former district nazim and PPP’s strong man Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi won election from NA-180 (Muzaffargarh-V). He got 68,270 votes against Sardar Ashiq Hussain Gopang of PML-Q, who could get 63,144. A tough contest is expected in this constituency, as the Gopangs have gained further strength. The make-and-break politics is in full swing in Layyah district, as PTI is striving hard to gain ground. Similarly, Jamaat-e-Islami is also considered an important player in the political arena of this district because of Ch Asghar Gujjar. The analysts anticipate a tough contest between PML-N and other parties. The constituency of NA-181 (Layyah-I) was won by Sardar Bahadar Ahmad Khan Seehar of PML-Q by securing 58,797 votes against 56,951 votes of PML-N’s Sahibzada Faizul Hassan and 46,149 votes of PPP’s Chaudhry Altaf Hussain. Now the Sehars stand with PML-N and they still enjoy a very strong position. Syed Muhammad Saqlain Bukhari of PML-N won election to NA-182 (Layyah-II). He got 75,910 votes defeating Malik Niaz Ahmad Jakhar of PML-Q who secured 52,108 votes. It is said that Bukhari will again be PML-N candidate in coming election.

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