Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio (1948-2009)
By Momin Bullo


Like other parts of Pakistan, Sindh is blessed with unique characteristics having been the hub of rich civilization dating back 5000 years. Its significance vary in all respects. From place to personality or race to tribe, a village to town or crime to punishment, it has own values and experiences.

Larkana or the old ’Chandika’ is mainly known after the powerful Chandios who inhabit across its width & breadth. Historically the whole ’Pargana’ has been the fiefdom of Chandios of Ghaibi Dero, the area spreading over 2 lacs acres of land. The much blessed land of Larkana is credited with being the nursery of patriots, politicians, parliamentarians, or those having the penchant for becoming a leader one day.

The area covers plains, mighty mountainous range of Kheerthar, deserts and vast agricultural lands is witness to the countless actions and anecdotes. It is also a home of number of wetlands and permanent abode of several archaeological and architectural monuments, most of those history is hither to unknown.

Long ago I had a chance of landing into a small but a well architectured and best designed residence of Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio, in Karachi’s DHA. To my utmost surprise, I was stunt to see the words like “Ghaibi Dero House” inscribing on the main entrance of Chandio’s house, which was unlike the heavily guarded (by moustache twirling uneducated gunmen) palaces of other feudal lords of Sindh and Balochistan in the same locality was not attractive or robust.

Upon seeing me emerging out of car, visibly the unarmed personnel deputed on the entrance, become alert and approached me one after the other. They sought my introduction and smartly conveyed it to the bed ridden politician  Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio  who all the times took his personal responsibility to provide security to the VVIPs of Bhuttos’ of Larkana whoever entered into his fiefdom.

In my long journey in the field of journalism spreading over three decades I didn’t find any example where did I ever got such a prompt response from any high profile politician in a maiden telephonic talk, agreeing to be interviewed.

Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio, who was elected as the Zila Nazim of newly carved out district of Kamber-Shahdadkot district in 2005, was born in 1948.

 He met a fatal accident in 1998, and is under treatment at his residence. Despite his ill health he regularly used to receive dozens of visitors hailing from nook and corner of his area & elsewhere, and attends official programmes where ever he is invited to.

After Pir Sahib Pagaro, who is a phone conscious and always keep his all land lines as well as cellular connections right under his command and receive calls directly, I found Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio yet another example kicking the same habit. All cells and landlines coupled with TV remote controls usually lie on his left and right sides.

Shabir Ahmed Chandio was sent to St. Joseph Convent School Quetta for his primary education. He was hardly there for three years when Field Marshal Ayoob Khan imposed martial law in the country and co education system of education was done away. The step didn’t match his mind and decided to shift to Quetta’s Grammar School. There he found some class fellows like Wajid Durrani, SSP, who later became infamous in connection with Mir Murtaza Bhutto murder case. Late Altaf Bhayo, a slained PPP MNA from Shikarpur, was senior to him.

He did his elementary from Public School, Hyderabad in 1964.

He was hardly in his mid teens when he got married. The marriage was arranged.

The bride was from his maternal side. His maternal grandfather was Nawab of Makran Mir Bhoyee Khan. His father, Nawab Sultan Ahmed Chandio, died in 2002.

His octogenarian mother is very much alive and actively take part in routine domestic works. Nawab Chandio has three sons and two daughters. For the Chandios of Ghaibi Dero it is famous that they are men of unconquerable will, never yielding to force and aggression. They are die hard friends of friends and bitter foes of foes.

Hunting and motor driving remain favourite past times of Nawab Shabir. While on a hunting trip in 1998 his vehicle fell from a hillock in his area causing him serious spinal injuries.

“I do not like fast driving”, says Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio.

He was hardly six years old when he grew interest in hunting and under went series of hunting trips in the company of his elders and retainers.

His entry in polling politics is as old as 1970, when he had a chance of campaigning for his father against Dost Muhammad Hakro who was backed by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP. Nawab Sultan was PML backed candidate.

Hakro was declared successful. Electioneering of 70s grew a politician inside him and he developed a passion for contesting the election himself. In 1977s polls, he was awarded with a ticket by the PPP on the provincial assembly seat from Larkana’s country side. However, the elections couldn’t take place due to imposition of Martial Law of General Ziaul Haq. In 1985’s non-party polls his father returned to National Assembly as an unopposed. In 1988’s general elections he was awarded a PPP ticket and remained successful. He defeated Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto in 1990s polls. In the first ever District Government System elections of 2001, he was unable to contest the election for the top slot of Larkana’s District Government because of his bad health. However, his elder son Sardar Khan Chandio succeeded in becoming Taluka Nazim. On the utmost public demand he sent forward a proposal for a separate District. The government respecting public will issued a gazzette notification upgrading Kamber Tehseel and giving away it a status of District, in 2005. The people of area were still busy in celebrating the new district formation, when a revised decision of the provincial government came in and its nomenclature was changed as Shahdadkot.

The latest decision came out as a shock for the public and a series of protest demonstrations were held in the Kamber and its suburbs. One of a peaceful procession was stormed by the police in which at least four innocent people were shot dead and several others were left injured.

A high powerful judicial enquiry was initiated and some police cops were found guilty of opening fire on the peaceful processionists. “It was purely a public reaction and we had nothing to incite them or create a law & order situation”, said Nawab Shabir Chandio.

Unlike other feudal lords he was calm and composed fellow. He was a regular reader of DAWN and keenly referred foreign as well as the local news magazines.

Traditionally, Nawab Chandio was a leading Sardar and wields immense influence through out the country. His clan and its innumerable sub clans and many more Baloch tribes inhabiting in & around his area directly comes under his domain.

 He doesn’t endorse the view regarding doing away with Jirga system. He staunchly favoured ages old mechanism based on speedy justice and ensuring peace and order.

“Why to oppose system, which though being an old is very much popular in the public at large. It doesn’t aimed at to create a sort of parallel system or isolate already a powerful judicial system. One or two Sardars can’t be blamed for promoting or protecting this system, in fact its purely an exercise which takes place on the utmost demand and sweet will of warring groups”, defending the system says Nawab Shabir Chandio.

“Very unfortunate lies in the FIR lodging system. A man who has nothing to do with any crime taking place in his area is named in the FIR while the actual culprits go scot free. On the basis of that faulty FIR, charge is used to be framed and one has to pay a heavy price to prove himself innocent. While in Jirga it all goes entirely inverse. Here justice takes place in a single session while in our judicial system the things are other way round ”, remarked Nawab Chandio.

Nawab Chandio was also vocal on crime against women folk in Sindh and holds novel argument in his defence.

“Karo Kari crime do not exist here in Sindh alone. Basically it is an emotional crime which has plagued the whole west or Europe. Had Karo Kari been confined to our part of the world than in what circumstances lady Diana died “, he aggressively argues.

Don’t you believe she was killed as ’Kari’. Yes, she was assassinated as Kari and no doubt the circumstances and the mode of killing was different to that one prevalent in Sindh. Isn’t that enough to justify that Sindh is not the only place where ’Karo Kari’ usually takes place”, says Nawab Chandio with relief on his face.

“In Sindh the women enjoys a lot of respect and a prominent place in society. While in other parts of the country its condition is worst, which is evident from the scores of incidents of gang rape or the naked parade”, he further claims.

Nawab Chandio doesn’t see any change of attitude towards controlling Karo Kari crime.

“Even education or mass literacy couldn’t help in controlling or curbing Karo-Kari nor any embargo on the part of judiciary or executive could be helpful. It doesn’t at all relates to being one self an ill literate or a super literate”, he further justifies. As against the general view, Nawab Chandio do not subscribe the view that ’Budo’ (or exchange) is bad tradition.

Instead he claims that this form of ritual provides a chance to the warring groups to reunite and live peacefully.

Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio’s political influence to social prowess is a living fact. He is a scion of a family, which is a full of legends. However, Nawab Shabir, who is a chieftain of a powerful tribe and a Zila Nazim of his newly formed district. After all he is a crownless King of Ghaibi Dero. 

(Nawab Shabir Ahmed Chandio breathed his last in May. He is survived by a widow, two sons, an octogenarian mother, a vast clan and an enriched family heritage).