Enter PML-F: A turning point in Sindh’s politics

Published: December 15, 2012

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. PHOTO: ONLINE

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


Ammar Rajar

An MBA marketing student at Szabist. Ammar tweets as @AmmarRajar. twitter.com/AmmarRajar

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sohail Khan Jahejo

    Indeed it will be a turning point in Sindh’s politics, although i am die hard fan of PPP but what Zardari led-PPP bought to us(sindhis) an order (SPLGO) which simply made us a Red-Indian at our own motherland. By yesterday’s Pir sahab Pagara’s Jalsa there is a hope of change and it will make difference in upcoming 2013 genereal elections.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    The politics in interior Sindh have always been dominated by Feudel lords. Doesn’t matter who wins, I doubt the life of the ordinary rural Sindhis will change. Just another wadera for them..Recommend

  • http://sojharos.blogspot.com Sojharo

    Dynamics of politics are changing in Sindh. We hope this change will bring fruitful results. I always thought that everything will go in a right direction once we find an alternative to PPP. Now, we have found it.Recommend

  • Irfan Ali

    With due respect, I disagree with the notions of Rajar and Junejo. Pir Pagara is a big name in the history for Surhiya Badshah, grandfather of present Pir Pagara Sibghatullah Rashidi. Neither Pir Pagara Ali Mardan Shah nor present Pir Pagara could be said true follower of his ideology. Surhiya Badshah was an anti imperialist resistance fighter like Bhagat Singh during British Raj. In today’s politics, only Hurs, followers of Hur Jamaat of Pir Pagara who regard him their spiritual leader, vote for PMLF in Sindh. Therefore, parts of Sanghar and Mirpurkhas and parts of Umer Kot are the constituencies where PMLF wins. Sindh Bachao Committee’s only winning member is Jalal Mehmood Shah. Legend Rasool Bux Palejo and Dr Qadir Magsi have never secured a seat in their home district Thatta.Should they win these two seats, they all together could not be able to do anything in the house of 168 MPs Sindh Assembly. So where is change??? According to my elder brother, will the rural population who get cash through Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme and compensatory amount as flood victims, vote for opponents of PPP?? Never. I am an observer and analyst of electoral politics since 1990s Elections, it is something different, my dear. As Obama said that change has come to U.S. and then we witnessed an intensification of drone attacks in Pakistan so this sort of change should not be welcome to Pakistan. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Let’s gauge popularity of PML F by the number of responses on this blog.Recommend

  • Faisal Memon

    None of the party can give peace to Sindh…only and only state institutions and education will bring peace and liberty to Sindh…Support those who can build unbiased institutions. Recommend

  • Adnan Hamid

    Nice one mate! keep it up!Recommend

  • Awais Ansari

    Good effort. Let’s see what these elections have to offer for Pakistan and our province sindh !Recommend

  • Ramiz Amin

    The wordings used by Pir Pagara in accordance with his slogan attracts me a lot towards his party. However, I was not that much interested in his speech since every political party will make a promise and this is done so as to attract the voters. But this article made me feel as if there is still some hope left in this particular political party. Time by time, my support will be growing stronger for PML-F. All the best Pir Pagara. May you do well for the province – for the Nation. Recommend


    By yesterday’s Pir sahab Pagara’s Jalsa there is a hope of change and it will make difference in upcoming 2013 genereal elections.Recommend

  • Parvez

    PML-F lacks credibility.
    This jalsa looks like a move on the political chess board, ordered so as to give a signal to the two main layers in Sindh, nothing more. Recommend

  • jehangir kazi

    Nice effort bro :) good luckRecommend

  • Shahzad

    Grtly written ammar!! Gudluck=)Recommend

  • Shahid

    The hurs of Pir Pagara live in slaver, peasants who dare not defy him. What has he done for his Hurs?Recommend

  • JoJo

    The Pagaras without being in power are powerful enough too kidnap men and woman ransack houses beat people to a bloody pulp and still roam around free. I shudder to think what Abu Bakar and Ismail would do and not to mention their lap dogs if this party comes to power.Recommend

  • Adil Uddin

    The legacy of all these Pirs is simply irritating.Despite foreign education,their feudal mindset doesn’t seem to evaporate. Their uniform system for Sindh is not going to be democratic at the first place.I support PTI,but LG system during Pervez Musharraf’s era atleast was appreciated by educated masses of Sindh; whereas the feudals of Sindh, whether they belong to PPP or PML-F will not bring any positive results to the province.
    Moreover,Karachi always enjoyed a separate legacy from rural Sindh even before creation of Pakistan. Back then, businesses etc.. were under the control of Parsi(Zoroastrian),Hindu,Gujarati and Jewish merchants.All these feudals of Sindh had no say even then,so how come they start comparing themselves with Red Indians.
    I belong to an Urdu Speaking background but do have friends hailing from other ethnicities too including Sindhis.
    So, there’s actually no turning point but the road may just change it’s name ahead.Recommend

  • Malahar

    This is good read. Thank you ET for such blog. As rule of nature, “Change is inevitable and its always constant”. Sindh is also changing as PPP-MQM Allied Govt in Sindh has completely failed to deliver on any front. They rather has opened a plethora of new problems, corruption, nepotism, poor law and order, ethnic divide, politics of hate and inflation. People of Sindh were yearning for change and in the shape of PMLF and Sindhi nationalists, they are getting a new pro-people alliance. This is good omen for Sindh’s politics in particular and Pakistan in general. The day is not far away when new leadership of Sindh will take away the powers from current corrupt regime.Recommend

  • Aman Asif

    Superb article by my friend Ammar Rajar..
    All the best Pir Pagara ..May you do well for our country Pakistan which has been suffering with roti , kapra , makkan ..Recommend

  • adil saeed

    Well done ammar I surely see a glimpse of change but I am afraid when these people will be in power the same traditional corruption and politics will be seen.Recommend

  • Nadir Khan

    such a naive article, a rally doesn’t change anything. And which author is calling a revolution was merely a gathering of the followers of hur jamaat. Hur jamaat is no doubt one of the largest spiritual jamaat in Sindh but gathering your spiritual followers to show your political power is a non-sense ;aslo those people were collected from all over sindh. The real power would have been if common people (awaam) were there to attend that jalsa. but there were none or for the most just a few people other than their own jamaat. Recommend

  • http://none Avinash

    well and nice said by the writer Mr ammar rajar, that pml-f is the party who can handle the current problems of our countryRecommend

  • Sanjay

    hallaattt ammar.. chhhhaaa gaya tu to! :DRecommend

  • SHAH ji

    The PML-F slogan of ‘One Sindh, One system’ sounds good but with only having 5-6 seats it does not seem legitimate to demand. Mqm which dominates Urban Sindh is requesting for local body system and being a major stake holder along with PPP which dominates Interior Sindh it seems like they will be two system running in Sindh.Recommend

  • Shahid Ahmed Bhutto

    One Sindh, One System ….!! Loved That Statement <3Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    @ Irfan Ali,
    Excellent analysis.
    There is saying in Hurs. Life for Pir, vote for Bhutto. I doubt it has changed,Recommend

  • ZMQ

    Nice conclusion and strong ones if we see the crowd which gathered around and the fact that PML-F is a strong party but what I fail to comprehend is how the king-makers can be kings? Not until the army supports them.

  • Shahbaz Rajar

    Very very nice effort bro good luck .Recommend

  • Mashooque Rajar

    very good work bro bejh pagaraRecommend

  • ali

    @ Adil Uddin

    Dear Real Indian, Sindhis of sindh are not red Indians and never would be, your political research since 1990s is short enough to know the centuries old relation of Sindhi people and Karachi, thanks for Future predictions….Recommend

  • Engr Muhammad Ramzan Mangrio

    @Irfan Ali:
    dear pir pagara is the great politician but he is also a great spritual leader no one have power to opposite him his HURS are brave nation,Recommend