PPP to bounce back after AJK win

Hassan NaqviReporter

30th Jul, 2021. 01:46 pm
Bilawal Bhutto

LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after winning 11 seats in the recent Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections has started to gain momentum, BOL News has learnt.

However, it still remains to be seen if PPP will be confined to only Sindh or will it be able to make a comeback in other provinces of the country including Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Abdul Qadir Baloch have already joined PPP in Balochistan.

“PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari recently held a couple of meetings with Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind and his son Sardar Khan Muhammad Rind and they too will soon announce their decision to join the party which will eventually make way for PPP to bag a good number of seats from Balochistan in the next elections,” a senior PPP leader from Balochistan claimed.

Party insiders added that Rind, who was also the president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Balochistan chapter had developed differences with the provincial Chief Minister Jam Kamal and felt that he had been sidelined in the province on important issues.

“Rind had withdrawn his son’s nomination from Senate elections in favour of the ruling alliance candidate in March this year but was not happy with the party leadership because of this,” a PTI leader from Balochistan added.

These leaders (Zehri and Baloch) along with PPP stalwart Sardar Fateh Muhammad Hasni are expected to start meeting disgruntled Baloch leaders and convince them to join PPP, a party source added.

Revival of PPP in Punjab

Speaking to BOL News, PPP leader Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khohkar said that winning 11 seats in the AJK elections has definitely been a momentum booster for the party and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has already started meeting people for the formation of a new central Punjab organisation.

According to party insiders, PPP Central Punjab President Qamar Zaman Kaira, General Secretary Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Information Secretary Syed Hassan Murtaza have been asked by the party chairman on May 7 to step down.

The PPP chairman acknowledged the performance of Central Punjab leadership and said their loyalty was unmatchable and unforgettable as they stayed with the party through thick and thin.

On May 9, Bilawal appointed former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf as the chief organiser for Central Punjab.

A senior party leader told BOL News that PPP was banking on their stalwart Raja Pervez Ashraf to find suitable people who could run the show till the next general elections.

Since the day Kaira stepped down (or was told to leave), the Raja of Gujjar Khan has been struggling to find a suitable replacement. He has also met senior PPP leader and former federal minister Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat at his residence along with other leaders from Punjab.

Before Raja Pervez Ashraf was announced as the chief organiser, the Central Punjab PPP show was being run by Qamar Zaman Kaira singlehandedly. He succeeded Mian Manzoor Wattoo and worked hard to revive the party but the PPP kept losing its veteran leaders one-by-one.

Why Kaira left office is another million-dollar question.

Some PPP insiders believe Kaira had himself requested the party leadership to be relieved from his duties. He wanted to give more time to his constituency for the next elections. It is also said that Kaira was being considered for a bigger role in the central leadership.

“Kaira is very much with the party. He has become a powerful voice within the party because of his unflinching loyalty and clear credentials,” says Mir Wasiq Sirjees, a PPP guard from Khanewal.

Another circle, however, believes that Kaira was fed up with Asif Zardari’s policies on several issues and excused himself on the pretext of his constituency.

According to political analysts, considering the recent polls, Punjab has already become a battleground for the PML-N and PTI alone. However, PPP is still making efforts to win back the lost fiefdom.

A senior party leader told BOL News that PPP failed to find Kaira’s replacement because they concentrated their energies on the AJK elections. “But now the party will completely focus on its Punjab chapter for which Chairman Bilawal is also expected to spend more time in the province”.

“Presently, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Qasim Zia are being considered for the slot and the name of Makhdoom Faisal Saleh is also very much there,” a senior party leader added.

According to senior party leaders, Bilawal would appoint someone who is good at wheeling and dealing, and would task them to bring disgruntled PPP leaders from Central Punjab back in the party fold.

The Punjab president will also be expected to woo electable candidates from other political parties, including the PML-N and the PTI ahead of the 2023 general elections.

“PPP won 10 seats in the Faisalabad and Sargodha divisions during the 2008 elections. The party wants to repeat the saga and will be betting on a new central Punjab president,” a party leader said.

Battle of the South

The biggest battle between political parties in the next general elections would be fought in Punjab— mainly South Punjab.

It is pertinent to mention that from 93 seats after the 2008 elections, PPP’s presence in the Punjab Assembly was reduced to merely four seats and the party now has only seven MPAs in the provincial assembly.

PPP’s weak flank was attacked after the 2013 elections when PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi started gaining his support base.

He brought Nazar Gondal, Raja Riaz from Faisalabad, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich from Gujranwala, Samsam Bukhari, Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar and Malik Niaz Jhakar from Layyah, Aamir Dogar from Multan, Sardar Saif Khan Khosa from DG Khan and Qayyum Jatoi from Muzaffargarh under the banner of PTI.

“He managed to persuade Aamir Dogar, Malik Niaz Jhakar, Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar, Raja Riaz, and Sardar Saif Khan Khosa to join the PTI,” said a former PPP MNA.

Now the party is hoping that the people who had left PPP will return before the next general elections.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi also managed to win over Dr Shabbir Qureshi from Muzaffargarh and Khawaja Sheerazul Mehmood, a former federal minister from Dera Ghazi Khan.

This was again repeated before the 2018 general elections when PTI managed to woo disgruntled electables with the help of Jahangir Tareen.

According to party insiders, disgruntled PTI leader Tareen and his like-minded group are in touch with PPP leadership and are likely to join PPP before the next general elections.

Tareen has already called a meeting of his like-minded group on August 2, to evaluate the implementation of the promises made by PTI leadership to his group and consider which party they will vow their allegiance to.

“We might contest the local bodies elections as a separate group but we will mostly likely join PPP as we don’t have a place in PML-N or PML-Q,” a leader of Tareen’s like-minded group told BOL News adding that differences with PTI were only increasing.

“Although Jahangir Tareen has denied numerous times that he is not joining PPP but is likely to make the announcement any time before the next general elections,” party sources added.

“He [Tareen] was approached by PPP South Punjab President Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood (Tareen’s brother-in-law) to join PPP,” a party source said.

“Tareen’s ultimate task will be to woo electable candidates from South Punjab and bring back disgruntled party leaders from South Punjab to join PPP,” a senior party leader told this scribe.

He will jointly work in coordination with former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and PPP South Punjab President Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood.

With the help of former chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa, PPP has managed to convince veteran politicians and former Punjab governor Sardar Zulfikar Khan Khosa and Saif Khosa to join PPP, announcements of which will soon be made.

“This is a big win for PPP as it would help in winning electables from other districts of South Punjab especially Dera Ghazi Khan including Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh and DG Khan,” a party source added.

Whether PPP will be able to win back leaders who had left the party and other electables with the help of Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa, Yousaf Raza Gillani and Makhdoom Ahmed Mahmood is yet to be seen.

 

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