In Umerkot, feudal lords and Hindu community key players in upcoming battle for dominance

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Ilyas Thari

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In Umerkot, feudal lords and Hindu community key players in upcoming battle for dominance

Ilyas Thari

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Read In Urdu

The district of Umerkot in the province of Sindh has the highest Hindu population in the country, where approximately 52 per cent of the population follows the Hindu religion. In the upcoming elections in this district, there will be elections for one national and three provincial seats, in which the Hindu community is expected to play a decisive role in determining the outcome.

This district's total number of registered voters is five lakh, 89 thousand and 350, consisting of two lakh 78 thousand and 379 female voters and three lakh 10 thousand and 971 male voters.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) won the only national and three provincial seats contested in this district in the previous elections. In the upcoming electoral battle, the PPP has fielded its former candidates, who will face competition from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate running independently. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have also put joint candidates in the electoral arena.

In NA-213 Umerkot, Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpar is contesting from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Lalchand Malhi, a former MNA from PTI, and Mir Amanullah Talpar from Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), are also competing in the electoral race.


Umarkot New Constituencies 2023

2018 National Assembly Constituency NA-220 Umerkot is now NA-213 Umerkot
This constituency of Umarkot contains the entire population of Umarkot district. This has not changed.

2018 Provincial Assembly Constituency PS51 Umerkot 1 is now PS 49 Umerkot 1
This constituency consists of the entire Pithuro taluqay, the entire Samaru taluk and Umerkot taluqay areas. According to the new constituencies of 2023, the Sufi Tippedar circle of Umarkot taluqay has been removed from this constituency.

2018 Provincial Assembly Constituency PS-52 Umerkot 2 is now PS-50 Umerkot 2
This constituency comprises the areas of Umarkot taluqay. Under the new constituencies of 2023, Khijrari Tappedar Circle, Sirathi Tappedar Circle and Qazi Muhammad Dars Tappedar Circle have been removed from this constituency.

2018 Provincial Assembly Constituency PS-53 Umerkot 3 is now PS-51 Umerkot 3
This constituency consists of the entire Kunari Taluqay and Umerkot Taluqay areas. Under the new constituencies of 2023, Khijrari Tapedar Circle, Sirathi Tapedar Circle, Qazi Muhammad Daras Tapedar Circle and Sufi Tapedar Circle of Umarkot Taluqay have been included in this constituency.


The electoral politics in this district are characterised by solid influence from tribal leaders, feudal lords, influential families, and minority political leaders. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the head of the Ghausia party, has contested national elections twice from here and is now a candidate for the third time from Sindh.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi is contesting from NA-214 Tharparkar I (Dahli-Chachro), a constituency connected to his previous constituency, in the upcoming elections. In the last elections, because he was a Gaddi Nasheen, he contested from Multan and secured more than a hundred thousand votes. Although he couldn't win, he gave tough competition to Yusuf Talpar on both occasions.

In this constituency, there is a significant presence of followers of different religious leaders and their respective political groups. The followers of Pir Pagara’s Hur Jamaat and Makhdoom Jameel ul Zaman's Sarwari Jamaat, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood's Ghausia Jamaat, and Pir Noor Muhammad Shah's Jilani Jamaat are numerous. Among these, Sarwari and Jilani Jamaats are aligned with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), while Hur Jamaat has an affiliation with the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), and Ghausia Jamaat is aligned with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Similarly, Hindu voters in this area are influenced by leaders such as Rana Hamir Singh from the Thakur community, Khatumal Jeewan from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Poonjo Mal Bheel, and Krishna Kumari Kolhi. On the other hand, there is a significant impact from Lala Malhi, affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Arbab Bhail, a resident of Umerkot, is a member and social worker of the "Bheel Sujag Ittehad," an organisation working for the welfare of his community. He has indicated that in this election, Hindu voters, especially from the Bheel, Menghwar, Oad, Kolhi, and Jogi communities, will decisively support the party or candidate they believe in. He is confident that the victory in this election will align with these communities' preferences.

Residents of the Shawani area in Umerkot, particularly Babu Darzi, mention that Makhdoom Shah Mahmood's significant vote share here is not solely due to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) but instead because of the substantial support from thousands of followers associated with the Ghausia Jamaat.

According to them, in the current circumstances, the anti-PPP vote will likely be divided between the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and independent candidate Lal Chand Malhi. This division is expected to benefit the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Former student leader Raja Daim Sadhu says that in the past, the ruling "Umerkot ka Hukmaran" of the Dhat Rana Khan dynasty has been allied with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for several years, leaving the opposition and consistently supporting the PPP.

“Current Rana Hamir Singh Sodho was a minority member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the previous Sindh Assembly, and once again, the party has placed him at the top of the list. This is expected to influence the Rajput, Jogi, and other Hindu communities under his influence to vote for the PPP.”

He says that the Menghwar community holds the majority of votes among the Hindu communities in the district. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has nominated Dr Khatumal, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded Neelam Kumari for the reserved seats. Since Khatumal is a former leader of the Menghwar community and Neelam Kumari is relatively new to politics, Khatumal's influence is likely to be more significant.

However, PPP Minority Wing leader Poonjo Mal Bheel is dismayed at being placed eighth on the party list for minority seats. In a press conference, he alleged that all parties, including PPP, sell specific seats reserved for Hindu constituencies and districts. This suggests that the Bheel community's vote might be divided due to these internal conflicts.

Kastur Chand Menghwar is a former councillor from New Chhor in Umerkot. He believes that minority leaders in this area have consistently been members of the assembly, senators, ministers, and advisors and have always been associated with the same political party. Therefore, he predicts that 70 to 80 per cent of the minority community's votes will go to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has been associated with nationalist politics for a long time. He says that if seat adjustments are not made among opposition parties' candidates, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidate Nawab Muhammad Yousuf Talpar may easily secure victory in the elections.

In PS-49, Sardar Ali Shah from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Khalifa Akbar Palejo from Ghausia Jamaat (PTI), and Faqeer Khizar Hayat Mangrio from the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) are the candidates. Local PPP leader and Sarwari Jamaat's Khalifa Ali Murad Rajar is also contesting in an independent capacity.

Ali Murad states that this is his former constituency, where he defeated the former Chief Minister and current Senator Muzaffar Ali Shah of the Functional League in the 2008 elections. In 2013, there was an agreement between Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Sardar Ali Shah that Ali Murad would be given the ticket in the 2018 elections, but this agreement was not implemented.

On this seat, the Grand Democratic Alliance's candidate, Fakir Khizar Hayat Mangrio, the brother of the late former Minister Makhdoom Fakir Jadam, is contesting for the first time. He mentions that the recent constituency delimitations have benefited the PPP, but he is prepared for the electoral competition.

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Here, the candidacy of Ali Murad Rajar, a defector of the PPP, could potentially benefit the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).

In PS-50 Umerkot, Amir Ali Shah is contesting from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), former MNA Lal Chand Malhi's brother Lekhraj Malhi is running as an independent, while Ghulam Nabi Mangrio is in the field as a candidate from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).

Former Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim has faced defeat in two elections from this constituency. The Nohri community, associated with him, holds more than 15,000 votes. This time, he had fielded his son Arbab Ibrahim, but the dynamics changed as Pir Pagara's successor, Fakir Ghulam Nabi, took a stand in favour of the PPP. This has raised concerns about the possible division of Nohri community votes, which may benefit the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

In PS-51 Kunri, Nawab Taimur Talpar from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is contesting against his traditional rival, Dost Muhammad Memon, who is a joint candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA).

Here, the situation is not much different from PS-50. Dr. Dost Muhammad, a former provincial minister, has faced defeat in the past two elections against Nawab Taimur Talpar, and this time, too, Taimur Talpur is a strong contender, too.

Burhan Ud Din Kunbhar is the district spokesperson for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He mentions that the PPP candidates are locals and are always present in the area, contrasting with opponents who sometimes bring Arbab Ghulam Rahim and sometimes Makhdoom Shah Mahmood to campaign. The people of Umerkot do not vote for imported candidates, so the results here are not expected to differ significantly from the past three elections.

Published on 22 Jan 2024

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Copyright © 2024. loksujag. All rights reserved.