Maulana is expanding. Watch for him in Sindh

Maulana is expanding. Watch for him in Sindh


Feb 8 may help JUI-F claim that it is among the parties having roots across Pakistan

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By Raja Arsalan Khan 

He is telling the people with utmost disdain that irrigation water – the lifeline for farmers – would be disconnected, if they don’t vote for his party. It is yet another show of unchecked power where the influential social and political “elders” directly control the lives of poor and restrict their freedoms, including the right to vote.

Then there is another person who mocks the rival by saying that they can’t win the Feb 8 elections because they couldn’t even secure the results of by-polls held last year. 

Both cases involve the leaders of the same party – the PPP. The latter is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – the party chairman – and the former is the husband of his paternal aunt.

However, there has been no hullabaloo, no outrage by the social suspects on neither mainstream nor social media because the culprits are from the so-called progressive PPP which champions the cause of democracy. Just imagine if some other party member threatens to cut irrigation water in case the voters opt for rival candidates.

Similarly, Bilawal is openly implying that those in government should never contest by-elections because they have the resources. Did he admit that the PPP uses the same tactics in Sindh? It clearly seems so.

But why no anger? Because the people who are responsible for triggering the outrage outflow can’t see their myth of Sindh belongs to the PPP being washed away by the truth. The “grand old party” is still their darling for the being first love.

Absence of alternative thanks to the spineless and unimaginative approach adopted by the likes of PML-N and the existing socioeconomic structures have enabled the PPP to sustain its hold over Sindh. Why would people vote for others when they have to live there even after the polling day as there won’t be anyone to help in the case of consequences?

However, the people always choose the best for themselves when there is a viable option. Karachi and other urban centres of Sindh are an example. But a change is slowly brewing in some parts of Sindh, notwithstanding its nature and the results we get on Feb 8.


It is the upper Sindh where one can notice the developments and the beneficiary is JUI-F – the religiopolitical political party led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman – as the region saw mushrooming of seminaries during the past decades at a time when the people were getting tired of traditional elite. Other parts of the province, including some neighbourhoods of Karachi, are also witnessing a similar trend but with varying degree of effectiveness. 

This support base is a social reality and thus solid. It is a reaction and challenge to the existing repressive social and political forces dominating the scene. You may not like the nature of the truth but it nevertheless remains the truth.

If you don’t like “this alternative”, then first blame the PPP for its poor performance and the way the ruling party has been using the socioeconomic system to silence the dissent at all levels. The second group which can be censured are the other parties for their failure to present themselves as a substitute.


If Maulana is successful in achieving the goal, he would represent the most visible and sustainable transformation in Sindh for decades to come. His first target should be [and must be] modest – nothing fancy, nothing explosive. 

Yes! Maulana – the shrewd politician, the wisest of the wise politicians – just needs let’s say eight seats in Sindh Assembly. Just eight seats for social and political change? Are you kidding? Well! Not being “a seasoned intellectual, expert and analyst” is of great advantage in Pakistan, as you are able to observe facts and deduce outcomes based by ground realities. But please don’t forget adding around four National Assembly seats, including the one of Lyari, to the total.

These seats for JUI-F means that the PPP would have less members in Sindh Assembly. What if it improves the tally? Extremely difficult but not impossible.

It also means Maulana will rightly claim his status as a national party – despite his overall small share in all legislatures across Pakistan – if he is able to secure a few in Punjab, especially Muzaffargarh. Remember he is already present in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – to increase the share – and Balochistan.


Before going into the possible numbers, one shouldn’t forget mentioning the lethargic approach adopted by the PML-N leadership – Nawaz Sharif – when it comes to Sindh, especially Karachi. It has always enjoyed much better scope, but always comes short of making a full-fledged attempt. One can’t digest the fact that the PML-N top leaders don’t have time to visit Karachi or other areas of Sindh even during election campaign.

Never mind. Just check what is at stake and how it can be achieved thanks to the seat-adjustment arrangement.

With the number of Sindh Assembly direct seats standing at 130, the rivals first require to stop the PPP from the magic number of 65 – just flip 15 seats and you are at least a kingmaker, as the PPP had secured 76 seats in 2018 and 71 each in 2013 and 2008.

They will also hope for maximising their share. But their performance depends on their ability to bring their voters to the polling stations by convincing them that the PPP can be defeated as the party’s overall vote share in the Sindh stays around just 40 per cent, at a time when many people in the past always missed their right to vote, either for not having a preferred option or believing that their choice can’t be victorious.

Coming back to the numbers, the main battleground is Karachi with 47 seats on offer, where the MQM-P and PML-N [as well as Jamaat-e-Islami] should be able to clinch a large number of seats.

With a modest target of eight seats for JUI-F in Sindh Assembly, the PML-N must look for 15 besides five in the National Assembly. Anything less than 10 would be a shameful performance thanks to the factors mentioned above.

At the same time, MQM-P will have to overcome two hurdles – the PPP tactics and the Jamaat-Islami – in its traditional strongholds in Karachi.


As everything is on stake, the PPP will use the available ways and means to force people either to stay at their homes or stamp the ballots according to its wishes. It has the machinery at all levels to go for the extreme. They aren’t blind, they can’t afford losing the last bastion after being totally rejected in Punjab. It’s a matter of survival. Everything is justified in love and hate.

The seriousness of the task can be judged from the fact that the PPP is sure of losing some of the constituencies in interior Sindh and hence is going after Karachi for damage control.


In short, the JUI-F can be the decisive factor in slashing the PPP’s parliamentary strength in Sindh Assembly from the rural and semi-urban areas. Others too can contribute here and there.

No matter what the parliamentary strength of the JUI-F and the overall results in Sindh would be, the voters and the elected members won’t switch sides in future amid the traditional pressure tactics. They are from a different social class and represent the challenge mounted to the traditional elite. They can make the likes of PML-N to make efforts for inroads.

Like it or not, Maulana will be remembered as a trailblazer in history, if he surprises the political pundits with his arrival in Sindh, as he and his JUI-F are going to shake the dominance of local elite.