By Asim Ahmed Khan
Gwadar Ko Haq Do Tehreek’s astonishing electoral performance is being discussed not only across Balochistan but also in political circles in other parts of Pakistan and on social networking sites.
Analysts say the new movement has filled a political vacuum left by parties active in the district for decades.
Haq Do Tehreek has won 28 out of 34 seats in Gwadar. The situation is similar in Pasni and Ormara, where it has secured most of the seats. The four-party alliance, which comprises the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), the National Party (NP), the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F), and the Pakistan National Party (PNP), has also suffered a crushing defeat in its stronghold.
Zareef Baloch, an analyst from Gwadar, believes that there are many reasons behind the success of the ‘Give Rights to Gwadar Movement’.
“They overthrew the electables, defeated powerful families and investors and factory owners, who have been MNAs and MPAs for decades,” he said.
Muhammad Masri, who is disabled due to polio, owns a small retail store in Sarbandan.
Masri participated in the election for the first time from the platform of Haq Do Tehreek and defeated Pervez Asa, a candidate of the four-party alliance, whose father and brother have previously served as district council chairmen.
Like Muhammad Masri, most of the successful Haq Do Tehreek candidates are working class and relatively unknown.
According to Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, the leader of the movement, “many of our successful candidates are those who not only contested for the first time in their lives but many of whom had never even voted before.”
Gwadar Rights Movement Fishermen and other stakeholders took advantage of recent protests for their rights and in the coastal areas of Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara, Sorbandar and Pushkan, managing to attract voters, including women.
“The success of Haq Do Tehreek in local body elections is a referendum against a rotten system,” Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman said, adding that the biggest problem in the province is corruption. “We will spend resources on people with a planning and vision to eradicate corruption.”
He explained that the local government system does not have financial and administrative powers.
“The provincial government has given a lame system, but our representatives have started work without delay, we will take our rights. We have more resources, less issues, we just need honest leadership,” he said. “The people of Gwadar have chosen us, we will ensure that there is a visible change.”
Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman belongs to Jamaat-e-Islami and he is also the provincial general secretary of this party, but he uses the platform of Haq Do Tehreek instead of Jamaat-e-Islami.
According to Nasir Sohrabi, political expert, Haq Do Tehreek not only effectively raised its voice on the “real issues” of the people of Gwadar, but also called a sit-in for more than a month and held the largest gathering of women in the history of the city.
“People believe that their problems were solved to some extent as a result of the effective protests of this movement. They got relief so they chose new people associated with the Haq Do movement out of tradition,” he said, adding that the movement has also challenged the status quo.
Gwadar-based journalist Sadaqat Baloch says that women have the most important role in the success of the Haq Do movement.
“There were no women’s rallies in the district during the elections, but activists from the movement like Khala Zeni went door-to-door campaigning, composing special songs for candidates and persuading women to go out and vote.”
According to Naseeb Nosherwani, a close associate of Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman and a candidate in the local body elections, Haq Do Tehreek not only won a landslide victory in Gwadar but also a record number of votes.
According to him, Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman’s hometown Sarbadan has been swept clean, the situation is similar in the rest of the area.
“I myself got 1,104 votes, which is a record in local body elections,” he said. “Haq Do Tehreek has an overwhelming majority in the Gwadar Municipal Committee. We hope that some independent candidates will join our panel soon.”