PPP Woos Shirazis, Malkanis To Secure 'Easy Win' In Sindh's Sujawal

Having tasted defeat at the hands of the Shirazis in the 2013 general elections, the PPP decided to coopt them rather than turn them into opponents

PPP Woos Shirazis, Malkanis To Secure 'Easy Win' In Sindh's Sujawal

During the 2013 elections, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) learnt a harsh lesson in Sindh. Despite its political heft, it cannot beat the Shirazis and Malkanis of Sujawal. 

In the elections since, it has tried to woo them rather than compete against them. As the 2024 elections near, the party is once again wooing the Shirazis and Malkanis to join them and secure seats from the district.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with Asif Ali Zardari in the decision-making position, has long followed a policy of inclusion rather than exclusion, especially regarding political opponents. 

During the 2013 elections, former Sindh Assembly deputy speaker Rehana Laghari had put forward her cousin, Parveen Laghari, to contest PS-86 on a PPP ticket against local influential Shah Hussain Shah Shirazi, who was contesting the elections independently with support from the Malkani community. 

Parveen lost the elections by the narrowest margins of just 500 votes. Most would say that the PPP gave a tough time to the joint Shirazi-Malkani panel. Still, it was clear that a PPP, which had been dominant in the province before and after the 2013 general elections, could not challenge the Shirazis and Malkanis.

Arbab Wazir Memon of Daro City, a seasoned PPP leader of the district and once believed to be quite close to Benazir Bhutto, has seen his support melt away because of how scattered Sindh's Memon community is there. 

Other PPP allies in the district, including Altaf Khuwaja and his brother Aijaz Khuwaja in Mirpur Bathoro, former deputy speaker Sindh Assembly Rehana Laghari as well as Heer Suho, have all failed to lock horns with the influential Shirazi family.  

According to political analysts of the district, the Shirazis have deep-rooted affiliations with residents of the district compared to their other political rivals, mainly the Arbabs of Daro City. Moreover,
the Shirazis have understood how to play their cards and when to do it. It helps their cause that their rivals struggle to string together effective strategies to woo voters in this district. 

Along with the Shirazi family are the Malkanis of Raj-Malik, a locality within the Jati Taluka of Sujawal district, who have been winning provincial assembly seats from the district since 1988. They enjoy substantial support amongst their community, who comprise around 60% of registered voters in the constituency. This is how they voted former MPA Muhammad Ali Malkani into the Sindh Assembly.

With such strong communal support, it is hard for any party to disrupt their vote bank, even though this dominance has not translated into significant development for Sujawal.

The PPP, having learned their lesson in 2013, coopted both the Shirazis and the Malkanis in the constituency since the 2018 elections, and hence, both communities now form an integral part of PPP's plans for the district.

This was evident in how PPP won in the district during the 2018 general elections and later during the local government elections.

With elections around the corner, people in the district are once again looking towards them with the hopes that this time, perhaps, the community would get a little more for their support.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.