Sensing an opportunity to gain significant ground in south Punjab and upper Sindh, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Nawaz Sharif is likely to offer former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi a “key slot” in his party when the two meet this week.
A PML-N insider told The Express Tribune on Sunday that Nawaz Sharif and other key leaders of the main opposition party were “desperate” for an opening in the remote southern parts of Punjab and upper Sindh and they believed that Qureshi was their best bet.
“Mian Sahib and the people he trusts have realised that an opportunity has come their way in the person of Qureshi … it looks like they will go to any lengths to grab it,” he said.
It is not clear what position Sharif would offer Qureshi. The PML-N is due to choose new office bearers for its Punjab chapter in a couple of weeks.
Qureshi belongs to Multan district in south Punjab, the so-called ‘Seraiki belt’ where the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has long overshadowed the PML-N. He quit both the PPP and his National Assembly seat a week ago, citing differences he had with President Asif Zardari earlier this year.
The former foreign minister is being wooed by both the PML-N and Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). But while Sharif is to meet directly with Qureshi on November 22, Khan is not scheduled to meet him before the former minister announces his political future at a public rally in Ghotki, Sindh, on November 27.
An associate of Qureshi told The Express Tribune that his meeting with Sharif would likely take place in Multan on Tuesday. MPA Abbas Raan said Nawaz’s youngest son Hassan Nawaz, had conveyed to family members of Qureshi his father’s desire to meet Sharif at the family residence in Multan, known as Bab-ul-Qureshi, Daulat Gate.
Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, a senior PML-N leader from Multan, backs Qureshi’s entry to the party, said a PML-N colleague of his. He said that Hashmi had opposed Qureshi quitting the PPP, but believed he would be an important leader for the PML-N.
Another associate of Nawaz Sharif said Hashmi had conveyed his support for Qureshi joining the party to the top PML-N leadership.
However, sources in the party said that there was still one hurdle to Qureshi being offered a significant position.
They said that the Khosa family of Dera Ghazi Khan, who have been allied with the Sharifs for a long time, would not like to see another major leader from the south Punjab region in a key position in the PML-N.
Sardar Zulfikar Khosa is president of the PML-N’s Punjab chapter.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2011.
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