DERA GHAZI KHAN: Dera Ghazi (DG) Khan is known for its political heavyweights, Baloch tribal chieftains and bureaucrats, who have dominated the national political arena for the past seven decades and there has hardly been any upset as elections are fought between two influential tribes – Legharis and Khosas.
The district has among its credit the introduction of former president Sardar Farooq Ahmed Leghari, former Punjab governor Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, former power minister Sardar Awais Leghari, former Punjab chief minister Sardar Dost Mohammad Khosa and others, but all failed to transform the district into a developed district of South Punjab.
Far from launching mega development projects in the district, the tribal chieftains also failed to address the basic issues faced by the people – from clean drinking water to sewerage, education and other basic amenities of life.
Perhaps due to the same reasons, this time around, a new and young talented woman, Zartaj Gul Wazir, fought vigorously against social and tribal taboos and was able to turn tables on both Khosas and Legharis simultaneously, defeating the tribal bigwigs from both the Baloch clans to win NA-191 on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ticket.
Gul won with a thick margin of around 26,000 votes against former power minister Awais Leghari, who contested on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) ticket. While Gul secured around 80,000 votes, Leghari could garner only 54,000. In the same punch, Zartaj also defeated former Punjab chief minister Dost Muhammad Khosa, who could only secure 31,000 votes.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, Gul said that her dream was to transform DG Khan into the most developed city with mega development projects in South Punjab.
“I want to install state-of-the-art facilities pertaining to health, education, civic amenities etc for the people of my area. Education is the priority issue here. I want this city to be the most education-friendly,” said the young MNA-elect.
Sharing an interesting feature of feudal politics, Zartaj said that both Khosa and Leghari sardars have been using education to take revenge against each other.
“What has been a norm here was when Legharis won the elections, they would construct schools in areas of Khosas as they feared that education will bring awareness amongst the people. When Khosas won, they constructed schools in the areas falling under influence of Legharis. So we have schools but no one cares to have teachers with better education techniques,” she said.
Sharing the tale of her success, Zartaj Gul said that her election win was actually the triumph of poor people of DG Khan over the tribal lords.
“I am just a symbol. People have actually won a crusade against tyranny we started together seven years back. In 2011, the people of DG Khan had decided to wage the war against tyranny unleashed by tribal chieftains and now the people have won their freedom,” said the upbeat 31-year-old Gul, who originally belongs to Waziri tribe but settled in DG Khan after marrying Humayon Akhund.
Wazir who had bagged 40,000 votes a few months campaign in 2013 election, said that the silent people have spoken against the misrule of Legharis and Khosas.
“The problem in the past was that no one dared to challenge the tyranny of sardars. It was always a sardar against a fellow tribal chief. I was the first young voice who challenged the tribal chiefs. In 2013, this voice could not reach all the people but this time around, I knew I will win. It was only a matter of time,” she added.
“During the past seven years, I have been shuttling from one place to other. I have been going to police stations to help rescue the poor and oppressed souls. I have been going to various courts to help the people targeted by the tribal elders,” she said, and added that the tribal leaders use to rule the area through their agents.
When asked about the secret of her success, Zartaj said that she remained present among the people for the past seven years while the tribal chiefs remained absent and aloof of the miseries faced by the people at the grassroots level.
Another major factor of her success remained that she won over hearts of womenfolk in deep and far-flung Baloch areas.
“Being a woman myself, I had the privilege to reach out the women in mountainous areas. I was sharing their moments of grief and happiness. I was there to share their miseries and consoled them. I was there among them all the times. I struggled against Karokari, Vani and other negative customs,” said the young MP.
Zartaj further said that another key factor were the youth who supported her wholeheartedly.
“Imran Khan’s message of awareness really helped and even tribal people are now aware of their rights. They have learnt to fight against oppression and I dedicate my election win to the oppressed people of DG Khan,” she added.
She further informed that another factor which contributed to her success was the way she was able to plug the rigging in far-flung and hilly areas.
“Last time, Legharis had managed to conduct massive rigging in the four union councils in mountainous tribal areas of DG Khan. This time around, the deployment of armed forces didn’t allow them rigging,” she concluded.
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