KARACHI: To those who think that the energy crisis, inflation and corruption scandals have dented the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) popularity, the Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah says think again.
Agriculture is the national economy’s backbone and helps feed over 60 per cent of households in the country, said Shah at a press conference on Sunday.
According to the chief minister, due to the increase in prices of different items, including wheat, sugar and rice, rural areas have been prospering. “A farmer who used to have a bicycle, now rides on a motorcycle,” he said, as journalists questioned the PPP-led government’s performance in giving jobs and shelter. “Don’t ignore the fact that farm income has increased.”
Accompanied by other senior PPP leaders, Shah announced the inclusion of Haji Khan Chachar to the party.
Head of the Chachar clan, Haji Khan pledged the support of his followers to the party. He said that the agricultural policy of the government across the country ensured better prices for farm products and protection against losses.
While giving full credit to the PPP policy for making rural Sindh resilient enough to withstand natural disaster, he said, “The floods caused tremendous devastation but the province is back on its feet”.
Haji Khan Chachar is a landlord and owns hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland across Sindh. His influence extends to Sukkur, Ghotki amd Kashmore. The former MPA parted ways with the PPP a couple of years back for “personal reasons.”
“I have decided to rejoin the PPP of my own free will,” he said. “My association with the PPP is not new. I was in the party in the 1970s and later became an MPA twice on a party ticket in 1988 and 1990.”
PPP leader Khurshid Ahmad Shah referred to Chachar’s comeback to the PPP as a rebuttal to doubts about the party’s popularity in Sindh. “A lot of people were saying that the PPP was growing weak but they have an answer now.”
He was bitter about the criticism of the PPP, which according to Khurshid had taken unprecedented legislative steps to solve major problems. “How can the media ignore the National Finance Commission award and provincial autonomy under the present government’s rule?”
The impact might not be felt immediately but Khurshid predicted that ten years down the road, people would thank the decision makers.
The chief minister brushed aside the notion that police was conducting an “operation” in Lyari to pacify the coalition partner, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
“There is no operation going on in Lyari, in fact it is just police action against criminals. There won’t be any discrimination.”
Shah said that the coalition partners, the MQM and the Awami National Party, have been told not to support miscreants who carry out criminal acts under a party’s umbrella.
With reference to politically motivated murders, he said that Karachi is a big city and maintaining law and order is a challenge. “Nevertheless, we are talking with all the political parties and religious leaders.” Faryal Talpur also spoke about the party’s MPAs in the Punjab Assembly who were suspected of horse-trading after a party candidate, Aslam Gill, lost the senate elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.