Lasbela Elections: Traditional Faces are Likely to Retain Power

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Ayaz Khan
With the shrinking distance between national and provincial assemblies and the candidates, who brace themselves to race towards both assemblies, the electoral vehicle has started continuing fast towards the destination. Unlike other parts of the province Balochistan—where standing against traditional political feudal and tribal figures might be sensed an immoral act of defiance—Lasbela’s traditional ruling classes never pay an arm and a leg to browbeat the opponents in order to settle scores if they creates problem for traditional ruling elite in order to have a smooth win in elections. Such is the sway of the tribal heads on the masses that never derail the path of electing their leaders!
Lasbela retains an electoral significance for sending two chief ministers, Jam Ghualm Qadir (1972-77, 1985-88) and Jam Mohammad Yousuf (2002-07). Lasbela constitutes one national and two provincial seats which lie at the heart of electoral significance. The power share has often swung between two arms. Jam family has had a traditional hold on PB 50 (consisted of Bela and Uthal) and Bhootanis have enjoyed the electoral victory contesting from PB 49 (consisting of Dureji, Sakran and Hub) on other hand.
The undisputed win over respective constituencies has been a taste of power the both ruling parties have often enjoyed unopposed. The jam family have traditionally been fighting from their respective constituency (PB 50, Lasbela 2) on the ticket of PML-Q and PML-N consecutively. However, the Bhootani brothers have mostly contested against their opponents independently through their constituency (PB 49, Lasbela 1).
Read also: Is Lasbela University on Right Track?
Given the current political ups and downs in the political landscape of the province— for which mostly the abrupt emergence of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is attributed to have become a change agent in the political scenario of the province—dynamics of the political muscle flexing has taken a diverse route. Mr Jam Kamal’s, former state Minister for oil and resource, somersault has corroborated the analysis of many analysts that Jam needed a wider power resting in his portfolio in shape of CM rather than remaining in a process of hibernation— as he alleged the Nawaz government for not addressing his reservations which caused him render his resignation and fly to have the driving seat of newly emerged party, BAP.
‘Mr Jam Kamal’s decision to fight on provincial assembly seat is crystal clear that he needs to be next chief minister of Balochistan. Traditionally, the Jam family have been fighting on provincial seat for the same purpose,’ believes Mr Allah Waryo Lasi, a senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of a quarterly magazine, AMARBEL.
Mr Jam Kamal’s win would be a two-fold success. In his respective constituency—though Jam family have been unopposed winner of it—Wadera Hassan Jamot had been the only stumbling block. But Wadera Jamot’s abrupt disappearance has brought the puzzle to its solution. Secondly, Mr Jam Kamal has encroached into PB 49 with bringing Saleh Bhootani under the umbrella of BAP. Mr Jamot, a fair weather friend of Mr Jam, broke away from him recently and got engaged in philanthropic works which earned him much fame before he joined Pakistan People’s Party after meeting the party co-chairman, Mr Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad.
‘Mr Jamot could have earned a good mandate and put a resistance had he been contesting the elections. Two factors, at the moment, have caused his decadence. First, he did not take party (PPP) heads in confidence before announcing his support in favour of Mr Aslam Bhootani. Secondly, his dissociation from his philanthropic work relegated his position among his supporters,’ AW Lasi opines.
AW Lasi is of the view that Mr Jamot could have created a tough competition given his growing liking among masses. Religious and independent candidates, in AW Lasi’s view, can only have a hand in collecting scattered votes.
Similarly, among 25 candidates contesting on two provincial seats, Saleh Bhootani, the nine-time winner from his constituency, is likely to have a clean sweep once again. However, seat adjustment between BNP and PPP might drag some votes in favour of PPP’s candidate, Sharif Palari—Mr Palari is contesting on a ticket of PPP on provincial seat PB 49.
‘PPP’s vote bank, in Lasbela, is not strong, therefore, it might not cause trouble for Saleh Bhootani , however, PPP’s candidate, Mr Palari, might get  some votes given his liking among specific groups of people,’ believes Bashir Jamali who closely looks at electoral process in the area.
To look at the electoral muscle flexing closely, PB 49 reflects a unique political scenario. Aslam Bhootani who is fighting on national assembly seat NA 272 (Bela-cum-Gwadar) will be getting votes against BAP, at the same time, the supporters will decide the fate of BAP as winner as well.
AW Lasi looks this matter as the immaturity of people who follow personality but not the vision. He also believes that they (people) shift their paths with shift of the personality they follow. On the matter of giving the youth a chance to wrestle the reins out of the hands of dynastic politicians, for him (AW Lasi) youth mobilization is must.
‘Youth are compelled and have to fight on multiple fronts, if they want to have their say in the politics controlled by dynastic politics. Family, tradition, cultural norms and even stature seekers create hurdles if a youth tries to get into political arena by democratic means,’ complains a social worker and youth activist, Maaz Aziz.
While taking the lead, MMA on its part have softened its path towards female representation. MMA’s female candidate contesting onthe provincial seat (PB 50) is emblematic of how MMA has brought progressive attitude in its electoral process. If seen from a progressive lens, the elite ruling classes of the district have never had a soft corner to forge an energetic youth ahead, nor have they turned a generous eye towards women yet!
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Ayaz Khan is a Graduate of Mass Communication from University of Karachi. He is an editorial assistant with Balochistan Voices and also contributes news stories.