Differing political allegiances divide the houses of Wattoo and Khosa

The upcoming by-elections appear to have split families along party lines in certain parts of Punjab. The splits within the house of Wattoo and Khosa show that party politics are a serious thing for all players.

A prime example is PP-193 Okara-IX. Traditionally, voters here are torn between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Mian Khurram Jahangir Wattoo is representing the PPP in this by-election and his relative Noorul Amin Wattoo is the PML-N candidate.

Former BBC correspondent Ibad ul Haq said that because of a long-standing association of the Wattoos with the Nawaz League, a large number of key figures within the Wattoo clan are PML-N stalwarts. This means that Noorul Amin will garner the most out of his clan’s votes.

PakVotes field monitor in the constituency, Atiqur Rehman Chudhary, confirms as much and adds, “The influence of factions in the area has conventionally outweighed political influence. And this time, most major clans have declared support for Noorul Amin.’

One of these factions is headed by Dewan Ikhlaq Ahmed, who contested as an independent candidate during the general elections. “Dewan, who bagged the third position in the general elections, has also withdrawn in favor of Noorul Amin,” Ibad said. “However, the results of the general election in this constituency were quite close and the tables could easily turn in favor of either of the two Wattoos during the by-elections.”

Commenting on the security situation there, Atiq said, “Nearly 3,000 security personnel have been deployed in the area. A large number of army and rangers personnel are part of the security arrangements. There’s a possibility that Khurram Jahangir Wattoo may boycott the by-elections hours before voting begins if he sees defeat as inevitable. Such an event may cause the security situation to deteriorate.”

The constituency of PP-243 D.G. Khan-IV has two brothers going head to head. Sardar Hissamuddin Khosa is the PML-N-backed candidate and his brother whereas Sardar Saifuddin Khan Khosa is the PPP candidate.

“The recent delimitation of constituencies in the region has clearly divided the voter power in the area in two parts – one part garners the Leghari vote whereas the other is under the Khosa influence.” Ibad-ul-Haq said. The Legharis, who have their own political agenda, are backing a third Khosa in the by-elections. “Overall, the delimitations have proved more beneficial for Khosas than the Legharis,” Ibad said.

Although the brothers will significantly divide the Khosa vote, Ibad says “Hissamuddin stands a better chance because Zulfiqar Khosa, who is a very influential figure in the Khosa clan, has long been a PML-N stalwart and is backing him. Saifuddin Khosa, on the other hand, is not in their good books.”