The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief’s claim that bad weather caused him to postpone his visit to Karachi on Tuesday might not have been a far cry from the truth after all.
A storm seems to be brewing as differences within local leaders in the PML-N Sindh is said to be the reason Nawaz Sharif failed to attend an event held at a hotel in Karachi. Some leaders from the PML-Quaid, including former provincial minister Manzoor Panhwar and influential members of the Jamot family, were to announce joining the PML-N at the event.
However, owing to some differences between the local leadership of the PML-N, two separate programmes were organised by two former chief ministers – Liaquat Jatoi and Ghaus Ali Shah. One event was to be held at the residence of Jatoi and the other at a local hotel.
The PML-N chief, meanwhile, chose to address the gatherings over the phone rather than coming to Karachi.
Some leaders of the PML-N even refused to attend both the events and complained they were not being taken into confidence in party decisions.
Sources privy to the development said that the PML-N has been divided into four to five groups in Sindh. Three former chief ministers and one governor from the party – namely Ghous Ali Shah, Liaquat Ali Jatoi, Mumtaz Bhutto, Saleem Zia and Mamnoon Hussain – are heading their own groups.
Mumtaz Bhutto’s woes
According to sources, Sindh National Front chairman Mumtaz Bhutto, who merged his party with the PML-N, recently held two different meetings with Nawaz to express his concern over being sidelined by the party’s local leadership.
During the first meeting which took place in Islamabad on June 13, sources quoted Mumtaz as saying, “We don’t know who our leader in Sindh is. Everyone has a different agenda and has sidelined us. No one coordinates with each other. It seems that the leaders of the PML-N have not accepted our entry and are not taking us into confidence in almost all party decisions.”
According to sources, during the meeting, Nawaz offered Mumtaz the chairmanship of the PML-N in place of Raja Zafarul Haq. Mumtaz, however, turned down the offer and demanded a major share within the party in Sindh.
Sources said that Nawaz had assured Mumtaz Bhutto of a reshuffle in Sindh as well as an important position in the party for his son Ameer Bux Bhutto.
Some reports also suggest that Ameer Bux is likely to replace Ghous Ali Shah as the PML-N Sindh president.
“PML-N leaders are treating us like juniors. If the Sharif bothers do not pay heed to our grievances, we will be free to make our own decision,” a close aide of Mumtaz said.
On the other hand, PML-N leader Liaquat Ali Jatoi denied hearing reports on dissolving the party’s provincial body. He also denied reports of Ghous Ali Shah’s replacement.
Meanwhile, PML-N Karachi president Nehal Hashmi said that new leaders entering the party should understand they can’t get a position overnight.
General Secretary of PML-N Sindh Saleem Zia also dismissed the report of differences within the party as “propaganda”, saying that all of the party’s leaders are united. “We respect Mumtaz Bhutto. The party has nominated his son as a member of the coordination committee of PML-N in Sindh,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.