Enter PML-F: A turning point in Sindh’s politics
In Punjab, the PML-N is set to face competition from the emerging PTI, PML-Q and PPP. However, one never thought that the political scenario in Sindh would be similarly fraught with stiff competition. This is because PPP has historically enjoyed a monopoly over Sindh.
But nobody knew what December 14, 2012 would bring forth.
December 14, was the day when the unprecedented monopoly of PPP was finally challenged. It was not PML-N nor the PTI, but the Pakistan Muslim League – Functional (PML-F) led by Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, popularly known as Pir Pagaro, that did so.
Yesterday, a rally was held in Hyderabad by the Hur Jamaat of Pir Pagara, after being dormant for nearly seven decades. According to The Express Tribune, ‘the event was organised on a 72 acres ground which was filled to capacity. This was the second public meeting in four decades to have been addressed by a Pir Pagara.’
It is funny to observe this because neither PML-N, nor PTI have been really hopeful of a fruitful replacement of PPP in Sindh. Their biggest achievement would have been only winning a few seats here. Indeed, it was believed that Nawaz Sharif played a masterful stroke by merging Mumtaz Bhutto into his party; no doubt, this was a smart move, but even Bhutto’s seat was not guaranteed and he was never thought as a replacement to PPP, as there could only be one real Bhutto! Even, the son of Zulfiqar Bhutto failed to challenge his father’s party led by her sister.
The one thing that is clear is, that Sindh listens to the leader whose roots lie with the masses and who is trusted by the public at large. This is why I believe that the only party which can gain a stronghold on Sindh is PML-F.
Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi has carried the legacy left by his father immaculately. After the defeat of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah by Ayub Khan in the presidential run, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah declared the Muslim League as ‘Functional’ and made Pir Pagaro (Syed Shah Mardan Shah-II) the head of Muslim League. He was nominated as the first president of the United Muslim League as well. He was a pro-Sindhi and pro Pakistani leader who always talked about the rights of Sindh and did not believe in ethnic division.
This same ideal was seen at the rally yesterday where Pir Pagaro stated simplistically:
“My slogan is very simple. One Sindh, one system.”
This slogan resonated with the beliefs of his father who was never a believer of politics of ethnicity. The history of the ancestors of Pir Pagara is well known in Sindh, but for the un-initiated, here is a quick re-cap.
Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi’s grandfather – Shaheed Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi – was known as Pir Pagara VI. He was also given the title of Soreh Badshah (victorious king) by his admirers. He was a spiritual leader of the Hur Freedom Movement during Pakistan‘s freedom struggle against British colonialists and was hanged by the British rulers on March 20, 1943. The legacy of bravery and patriotism was well carried by his son, Syed Shah Mardan Shah II, and now by his grandson, the current Pir Pagara Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi III.
He is the first Pir Pagara who ordered the Hur Jamaat to take part in the political activity. Pir Pagara touched the height of popularity in Sindh when PML-F became the first party to leave the collation government, when then the new local body bill (Sindh Peoples Local Government Act (SPLGA)) was passed in the assembly.
In fact, he stated in clear terms at the rally yesterday that it was a matter of principles and this is why they left the coalition government. He further said:
“We want justice and honour.”
Earlier, Pir Pagara had called the entire nationalist leaders to his house and had addressed a press conference himself. He conveyed in certain terms that he won’t comprise on Sindh. This received an overwhelming response throughout Sindh and brought about a reawakened spirit in the Sindhi people.
On his call, Nov 30, 2012 was celebrated as a black day. He has recreated history by addressing PML-F’s first jalsa.
And, this is why I believe that December 14 could be a turning point in Sindh politics.
Conclusively, this year has been prosperous for PML-F. Earlier this year, many prominent personalities have joined the party. Some of which include, Abdul Mujeeb Pirzada (former MNA), Mir Aijaz Talpur (former provincial minister), Mir Inayat Ali Talpur (former district nazim and ex-MNA), Mir Mushtaq Talpur (former MPA) and Mir Ghulam Ali Talpur from Tando Mohammad Khan, Syed Ali Bux Shah a.k.a. Pappu Shah (former provincial minister), Khalid Siraj Soomro and Qasim Soomro from Umerkot and many more.
All in all, I just hope that Sindh is peaceful again. If PML-F is the party that will finally bring us solace, my vote most definitely lies with them!
Follow Ammar on Twitter @AmmarRajar
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.