LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is set to deploy his campaign machine in Sindh as his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz looks for mass support against the PPP-led coalition government in the coming days.
With a full roster of public rallies this month, Nawaz is hoping to cash in on some newfound political friends and allies in the making. One of them, Sindh National Front (SNF) chairman Mumtaz Bhutto is expected to announce his grouping’s alliance with the PML-N.
On May 8, the PML-N leader will be addressing a public gathering at Garhi Khairo in Jacobabad where the head of the Baledi tribe, Sardar Suleman, is expected to join the party.
The next day Nawaz will address another gathering in Rato Dero where Mumtaz Bhutto will formally announce a political alliance between the SNF and the PML-N.
Negotiations between Mumtaz and Nawaz over seat adjustments reached a stalemate earlier as the former had sought the slot of PML-N chairmanship. Sources in the PML-N said the issues had been resolved through “alternate talks” and seat adjustments had almost been finalised.
Senior leaders of PML-N’s Sindh chapter Ghous Ali Shah, Saleem Zia and Irfan Marwat acted as mediators between Nawaz and Mumtaz, while the recent addition Marvi Memon is actively persuading other politicians to join the party. On May 11, Nawaz will address a public gathering in the Hafizabad district where new entrants Bhatti and Tarrar families will flex their social muscle to ensure a large attendance.
Nawaz will return to the southern province again on May 15 to address a public gathering in Garhi Yaseen in Shikarpur district where renowned political figure Agha Imtiaz will join the party. Imtiaz is also a close relative of PPP provincial minister Agha Siraj Durrani.
Yet another rally will be held on May 16 in Shikarpur city where other notable politicians are expected to join PML-N.
Sharif’s political secretary Dr Asif Kirmani accused PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari of targeting organisers of PML-N’s public gatherings and those wanting to join the party. According to him, police and feudal lords were creating hurdles for PML-N’s expansion.
The party’s think-tank also feels Nawaz’s frequent visits to Sindh have unnerved both the PPP and the MQM. The PML-N is also negotiating with Peoples Amn Committee leader Uzair Baloch. If Baloch joins the party, he is likely to remain in Punjab till the end of the incumbent government’s tenure.
PML-N had launched a similar Tehreek-e-Nijat movement in 1994 against then prime minister Benazir Bhutto which continued till the end of her government in 1996. In that movement, the PML-N had employed different mediums of protests such as public gatherings, long marches and sit-ins.
This time too, the PML-N seems determined to continue its movement against the PPP-led coalition government till the end of its tenure.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.