Gandhi, Bombay, Jalandhar in Pak General Election 2018
All the PM candidates Shehbaz Sharif from PML (N), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from PPP and Imran Khan from PTI have their strong connection to India.
Sun was setting in as some villagers at Jatti Umrah pind ( village) in Taran Taran district, less than 40 miles from Amritsar, are discussing general elections of neighbouring Pakistan in a local Gurudwara. And if they were to vote, they would have settled for Shabaz Sharif's party, Pakistan Muslim League (N) without even an iota of doubt. It is certainly not due to the pro-poor or profarmer policies of PML, but for some other reasons. Well, these villagers identify with Sharif as his family traces their roots to Jatti Umrah.
"Jatti Umrah is solidly behind Sharif clan notwithstanding the fact that the Shabaz's elder brother and ex- Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, is sentenced to ten years jail on corruption charges, " says Manmohan Grewal, a local villager and Punjabi writer, adding, " If PML(N)
wins the poll and Shahbaz Sharif becomes the Prime Minister, there would be a big celebration here. Sharif’s clan attachment with Jatti Umrah is so strong that they named their family home in Lahore as Jatti Umrah."
Well, the Pakistan general election due on forthcoming 25 July has strong Indian flavour and connection. Not only Shahbaz Sharif, even Pakistan Tehrik Insaf Party (PTI) head Imran Khan and Bilal Bhutto, head of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the other two Prime Minister post aspirants, have Jalandhar, Bombay and Junagarh links.
As this is not enough, if the three big parties failed to get full majority in the 342 members’ house, they may seek the support of Awami National Party (NAP) or various factions of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). NAP was established by Khan Abdul Wali Khan in 1968, a staunch Gandhian and son of Sarhadi Gandhi Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Wali Khan used to meet Bapu often with his father during the Indian freedom struggle. "NAP is totally committed to the ideals of Gandhi ji and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan,” Afsandeyer Wali Khan told media during his Delhi visit in 2011. Grandson of Sarhadi Gandhi, his party is contesting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa state of Pakistan.
Imran ʻJalandhariʼ Khan
Interestingly enough, Asfandyar Wali's party is facing acid test from somebody who still proudly talks about his Jalandhar ties. Well, we are talking about Cricketer turned
politician Imran Khan. Imran Khan's mother, Shaukhat Khanam, was a Jalandhar girl. Imran maternal grandparents had a big house in Basti Danish Manda in Jalandhar. They were at the forefront of building Islamia College there in early 40s. "My mother's family was based in Jalandhar for over 600 years. It was real trauma for them to relocate to Lahore. We had several relatives there in Jalandhar; all of them were uprooted then. Former Indian test player Dr. Jahangir Khan and father of my cousin, Majid Khan, ex captain of
Pakistan team, was our neighbour there in Jalandhar," Imran Khan revealed to couple of Delhi based scribes in 2004. That was the time when he visited Jalandhar too for the first time to see his roots. Noted political commentator of Pakistan Asad Raza says that Lahore has a big concentration of people originally from Jalandhar and other cities of Doaba region like Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr. “They have some kind of unwritten brotherhood. They are like to support Imran Khan as they smell top post for their Jalandharwala.”
Bit of India in every Pakistani
Former president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, was spot on when he said in 2008,"There is a bit of India in every Pakistani". Indeed Zardari knows this fact perhaps more than anybody else. His son, Bilal Bhutto, heads PPP that was established by his prestigious Cathdreal College of Bombay educated grand-father Z.A.Bhutto.
Z.A.Bhutto was always taunted by his detractors in Pakistan for moving to Pakistan in 1950. In his book, ‘Zulfi, My Friend’, Piloo Mody writes, "In that moment of shock (Gandhi’s death) I felt fatherless, country less and creedless. The next few days were spent in utter despondency. Throughout this period, it was Zulfi who consoled me and nursed me out of my condition, sharing my sorrow, and in commiserating with me, being careful not to say or do anything which would upset me in any way."
Bilal's great grandfather, Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, was the Diwan of Junagrah state before 1947. It was he who advised Nawab of Junagarh, Mahabat Khanji, to go with Pakistan instead of India even though Junagarh has almost 80 per cent Hindu
population. A plebiscite was eventually held to decide what the people wanted.
The result was overwhelmingly in favour of India and the vagaries of time and bitter past were forgotten when a special namaz prayer was held at the Jama Masjid of Junagarh for the eternal peace of Benazir Bhutto after her gory killing in 2010.
UP to Karachi
While Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party mainly of all those who migrated to Pakistan post 1947 from UP, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, is in a bad shape this time as it was split. Both MQM (Pakistan) and MQM (Haqiqi) are fighting hard to make their presence felt. Split apart, two things are very dear to them. A. Both MQM factions consider self-exiled burly Altaf Hussain as their guiding force. B. They are dutybound to fight for the just rights of mohajirs. While talking about his family ties with Agra and Aligarh, Altaf Hussain told yours truly in 2004, “I originally hail fom Agra. My father was working in Raja ki Mandi Railway station when partition took place. Mohajirs can not forget cities like Lucknow, Agra and Meerut of UP. They are proud of their rich past. Sadly, we feel cheated in Pakistan as government jobs are denied to mohajirs at all levels.
We are considered as second class citizens in Pakistan.” Meanwhile, there is a general disenchantment among them for the forthcoming poll. They may not even vote this time as big parties hardly care for them. They are very annoyed with Shabaz Sharif as he brazenly said recently that he will turn paan-chewing Karachi into Lahore. Mohajirs say he was making mockery of paan loving UPwallas.
And as debate came to an end at the Jatti Umrah village gurudwara, some of them started recalling the 2013 visit of Shahbaz Sharif to this village and gurudwara, which was the family home of Sharifs before they moved across Redcliffe line with heavy heart.
Imran Khan's mother, Shaukhat Khanam was a Jalandhar girl.
Abdul Wali Khan was a staunch Gandhian like his father KhanAbdul Gaffar Khan.
Shehbaz Sharif with his father's friends in ancestral home town Jati Umra in Taran Taran district of Punjab in India.