Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Politics of Kot Addu: 1988 - 1990

I still vividly remember entering into a polling station in my maternal hometown in 1988, where Malik Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, from Sindh, was competing against a home boy, Mian Tariq Ahmed Gurmani. This National Assembly seat was left vacant by Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, who had won two seats NA-137 & NA-138 and had chosen to retain NA-137 for himself. He was generous enough to request his dear old friend from Sindh, who had lost his seat from his home town, to get him elected for the National Assembly and ultimately, for the premiership of Pakistan. My grandfather, Mian Ghulam Abbas Qureshi, was contesting initially, but he was asked to step aside and facilitate in the election of Mr. Jatoi, since he was to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Mr. Gurmani was not impressed enough and decided to make a run for this seat on PP ticket. 

By the way, I was only eight years old at the time of these by-elections. I did not quite know behind-the-scene politics of this particular seat, but I just wanted to be the part of this exciting event. I had gathered these informations over the following years through various sources like books and newspapers, etc. However, I did participate in these elections by helping old family members and friends in casting their votes. Today, when I recall these things, it gives me shivers in the spinal cord to think of an eight year old in the polling station. I can’t imagine any parent would let their child drift on a distant street to play with their buddies, let alone spending a day in a polling station for the whole day. Anyways, Mr. Jatoi won that by-election with a clear majority and left us for good. I do remember that someone from this constituency once had located him in Islamabad and asked for his help, as he was our representative. And he had responded that he didn’t owe anything to the constituents. He had returned the favor many times over to the individual who had vacated that particular seat. So that was that. 

Back in the days, our assemblies were pretty fragile and our political environment unstable. So the country was holding elections every couple of years. It was Peoples’ Party government in 1990 which had been ousted and the elections had been announced in 1990. This time around for NA-138, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar was again running and my grandfather was also in the race. The elections were very intense. The elections for the National and Provincial Assemblies were held on separate days. So the results of the National Assembly were undeniably influential for the provincial assembly candidates. So the political parties made a hard run to ensure grabbing the maximum National Assembly seats to win Provincial Assembly contests. The final mandate was clearly given to Mr. Khar, as he had bagged some 53000 votes and my grandfather some 38000. It was a tough election for the family. This time around Mr. Khar had retained NA-138 and vacated NA-137 for his younger brother, Malik Noor Rabbani Khar, to contest and later win that seat.