Impact of Caste and Biradari System on Voting Behavior: Comparative Study of Rural and Urban Southern Punjab (District Bahawalpur).

Byline: Nazir Hussain Shah and Naudir Bakht

Since the end of World War-II, more than eighty-five former colonies have gained their Independence including Pakistan. All countries including Pakistan inherited democratic Political Institutions. The Pakistani does not have a lot of experience in elections. Since Independence Pakistan has held eleven General Elections so far. The first General Elections in December 1970, The second General Election was held in 1977. The system was also revised in 1977 to allow political parties to participate and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won heavily. It was also resulted into military takeover as results were not accepted by political parties.Later on General Election were held in 1985 on a party less basis which were boycotted by most Political Parties afterwards Elections were held in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2008 and 2013 respectively.

The year of 2013 is to be considered as a mile stone in the history of democracy of Pakistan as it was the completion of transfer of power after completion of full tenure of civil government. In this election, all the parties took part with full vigor and spirits. The focus of the researcher is 2013 election as the research paper is based on the General Election 2013 at National Assembly level of Southern Punjab (District Bahawalpur).

The caste system largely affects the electoral campaign in rural areas, where caste and Bradari (Kinship) loyalty is seen as one of the most decisive factors determining voting behavior of the villagers (Ahmed, 2007). Different studies explain how the local Identities become the substance of electoral politics in rural Punjab (Ahmed and Naseem, 2011; Wilder, 1999). Some are of the view that Caste system does not have effect in urban areas. This is due to the increasing Political awareness of the people especially in the large cities like Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad. Caste system has become insignificant factor for both voters and candidates.

Amir Bahawal Khan laid the foundation of Bahawalpur city in 1748 and this city remained well known for many years as "Soorah Ki Jooke". Two rivers namely Sarswati and Hakra (Gagrah) were flowing in this area since thousand years. District Bahawalpur total population was 1522061. Amir Muhammad Mubarak had built a wall around the Bahawalpur City with nine gates around it. The gates are namely Farid Gate, Mori Gate, Lahori Gate, Multani Gate, Bori Gate, Shikarpuri Gate, Ahmad Pur Gate, Dilawri Gate, and Duowari Gate. Their monuments are still in existence. The District Bahawalpur is further divided into 5 Tehsils. Hasilpur, Khairpur Tamewali, Yazmans, Ahmed Pur East and Bahawalpur. National Assemblies constituencies were NA-183, NA-184,NA-185, NA-186 and NA-187 in General Election 2013.\

The famous caste/Biradri of Bahawalpur areAbbasi, Gardesi, Syed, Owasi, Cheema, Baloch, Lunga, Murral and Judgga. In the Cholistan Desert area and Tehsil Yazman other Caste/Biradri are Mehar, Sammah, Lo rt, Sheikh, Dahbahs, Mughals, Muttoja and Panwar are prominent.

The detail of national assembly seats of District Bahwalpurmaybe seen at Table 1 as under.

Table 1


  1. To investigate in depth the real scenario of electoral system based on Caste, Biradari and Kinship system in politics.

  2. To establish the root causes of the problems and devised strategies to improve voting behavior.


    Following hypothesis as follows.

    H1: The voters in Southern Punjab follow the trend of caste, Biradri and Kinship system as compared to leadership.

    H2: There is more impact of caste, kinshipand Biradrisystem on rural voters as compared to urban.

    Literature Review

    In reference (1 to 5) different authors have discussed various historical aspects of Bahawalpur i.eBrig (Retd) Nazeer (1959) and Shahmet Ali (1948) discussed the Bahawalpur location, its climate, constituencies and various castes. He saysthat the state is as large as Denmark. Politically, the history of Bahawalpur State is as old as that of the United States.

    (Giles Henery (2008) spoke about the Bahawalpur state had an independent sovereignruler, they had their own mint including three mobile ones. Bahawalpur was the only state which survived an independent Muslim state in 1947.

    Tod in his history of Rajistan also mentions that Bahawalpur was built at the site of old fort which was once occupied and built by Bhatti rulers who also founded Koror Pucca. Tod's in his history of Rajistan mentions Alexander's invasion of this area somewhere near Marot,

    According to Colonel Minchin (2013) "The dominate race in Bahawalpur is the Daodpotara which the Nawab is the Head. There can be no doubt that the founders of the tribe rather the Chiefs who led them to Bahawalpur were an enterprising set of men. They selected the Head of theperigani section to be the Chief of the whole tribe. This was Bahawal khan, the first who founded Bahawalpur and whose grave is at the village Musseeta".

    "The People, continues Colonel Minchin are to a certain extent nomad preserver the use of bows and arrows their hospitality is proverbial.

    The Wilder (1999) explains the complete electoral process in Pakistan and especially on Punjab. He showed concern that very less work has been done by the political observers and analysts on electoral system. He made a point that Punjab voting behaviour differs from area to area. The Northern Punjab voting behaviour is different from the Southern Punjab. Same is the case of Eastern Punjab with the Central and Western Punjab. The Central Punjab is most populous and 42% Of Population resides in urban and 58% in rural areas.

    The Dr. Mandis (2008)discusses the electoral system and voting behavior of the South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Based on the data collected from numerous articles, the author concludes that in most of the south Asian countries democratic system is although working but the...

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