SUKKUR: A strong contender for the provincial assembly seat from Ghotki in the 2008 elections and a former mayor of Union Council I Ghotki has fallen out with the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“I continued to support the PPP despite the fact that it did not issue me a ticket for the Ghotki seat in the last general elections,” said Asghar Shah in an interview with The Express Tribune. “But what I have seen during the past four years of its rule has forced me to part ways with the party.”
He said that on July 6, 2007, the PPP leaders, including Qaim Ali Shah and Khursheed Ahmed Shah, met him and asked to support the party in Ghotki. “They also promised to issue me a ticket for PS-6 Ghotki,” he claimed.
Asghar Shah was with the all-powerful group of the Mahars of Ghotki, but after developing some differences with them, he decided to join the PPP.
“The Mahar brothers are far more powerful in the Ghotki district than the PPP and the party was fearful of losing the elections, so they sought my support,” said Shah, a former chairman of the Ghotki District Zakat Committee. But the party leadership “forgot” its promise and issued the ticket to Jam Ikramullah Dharejo against Ali Nawaz Mahar alias Raja Khan, he added.
Though the Dharejo family, Asghar Shah claimed, was not politically strong, Ikramullah Dharejo won the seat due to the “sympathy vote” following the murder of Benazir Bhutto and his sincere efforts. “Otherwise it was an uphill task for Ikramullah Dharejo to defeat Raja Khan,” he said.
Asghar Shah alleged that after coming into power, the Dharejo brothers, Ikramullah and Saifullah, resorted to massive corruption. “Our irrigation system has been ruined due to the incapability and corruption of Sindh Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo,” he said, alleging that the same minister made the cuts in the Tori Bund.
According to Asghar Shah, the Dharejo brothers also ignored the loyal party activists, creating a sense of deprivation among them. “I told PPP Ghotki district president MPA Sardar Ahmed Ali Pitafi and Federal Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Ahmed Shah about their attitude, but to no avail.” When the party leadership didn’t pay any heed to his complaints, Asghar Shah thought it was better to quit and resigned from his PPP post on May 2. “I have rejoined the Mahar group and will contest the next elections against the PPP,” he said.
In a sign of political vengeance, Asghar Shah has been implicated in two cases of robbery since his resignation. He alleged that the Dharejo brothers were implicating him and his friends in fake cases. “I am a respectable businessman and pay Rs1 million every year in income tax,” he said.
He also said that he will rejoin the PPP, if the party stops supporting the Dharejo brothers. Asghar Shah started his political career with the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba in the 1970s and was elected its Sindh president in 1986. In 1993, when former Sindh chief minister Ali Mohammad Mahar won a provincial assembly seat, Asghar Shah supported him. Later, he was twice elected as the nazim of union council-I in Ghotki, but left the Mahar group to join the PPP.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.
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