ISLAMABAD: Premier Nawaz Sharif used his Karachi sojourn to placate some influential groups within the ruling party who had been lobbying for their respective contenders for Sindh’s gubernatorial office but were disillusioned after the appointment of Muhammad Zubair as provincial governor.
Though Sharif was in Sindh to inaugurate the Karachi-Hyderabad motorway, sources say the visit had underlying political motives too. “Since there were too many aspirants for the coveted office from urban and rural Sindh and only one had to be picked, it was necessary to take them into confidence so that no one feels left out,” a senior leader of the PML-N told The Express Tribune.
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This, insiders say, explains why PML-N’s federal and provincial lawmakers from Sindh were invited to the motorway’s inauguration ceremony.
“Some influential lobbies in the party believed the governor should be from the rural areas of Sindh as it would strengthen the party in the province,” said one insider. “However, the central leadership picked an urbanite because it believed the PPP’s political clout in rural Sindh could not be challenged – at least for now.”
The decision ruffled quite a few feathers in the ruling party. And Premier Sharif used his brief Karachi visit as a damage-control exercise. So, the question is who else was in the run for the gubernatorial office? Sources say Senator Mushahidullah Khan, senior leader Khawaja Qutubuddin, Syed Shafqat Shah Sheerazi, Miftah Ismail, SM Muneer, Nehal Hashmi, and Arbab Ghulam Rahim were also aspiring for the coveted slot.
Zubair is said to have cordial terms with the security establishment, which the PML-N believes, will help smoothen civil-military relations. “Although the role of governor is ceremonial, accommodating someone who gets along well with military authorities is necessary to keep the stakeholders on the same page regarding counterterrorism efforts in Karachi,” said another PML-N leader.
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Apart from political issues, source say the current situation in Karachi and steps taken for restoration of peace in the metropolis were also discussed during the premier’s visit. Corps Commander Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza and other senior military officials accompanied Sharif at the motorway inauguration.
According to a close aide to Premier Sharif, the military officials have been assured that the federal government would continue throwing its weight behind the counterterrorism operations that have resulted in the detention and killing of ‘hardcore’ terrorists and criminals.
Prime Minister’s Adviser Ameer Muqam confirmed security issues had come up for discussions during the Karachi visit. “Karachi is Pakistan’s lifeline and we all want to see a peaceful and prosperous Karachi for our economic wellbeing and we would leave no stone unturned to achieve this goal,” he told The Express Tribune. “You can see the City of Lights has again started blossoming like the past.”
Muqam said apart from security issues Premier Sharif had also discussed the options for improving business environment in Karachi to attract investors. “All this depends on improved security situation. The Karachi-Hyderabad motorway will prove to be a milestone in boosting business activity in Karachi and Sindh.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2017.