ISLAMABAD: Pir Sabir Shah and Rehmat Salam Khattak have been nominated respectively as President and General Secretary of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), The Express Tribune has learnt. A formal announcement is likely to be made by Nawaz Sharif in Peshawar on December 28.
Sabir Shah, a former K-P chief minister, will replace Mehtab Abbasi, another former chief minister of the province and highly controversial among PML-N leaders and workers.
The move is aimed at pacifying former secretary general of PML-N Seranjam Khan and his close associates who had quit the party when Sharif appointed Abbasi as the chief organiser of the party in K-P.
Sharif is in Peshawar apparently to supervise PML-N’s provincial elections – but the main objective is to reorganise the party that has suffered a serious setback during the rule of former president Pervez Musharraf when most of its top leaders mainly from Hazara division defected to join the PML-Q.
The party suffered another setback when its central secretary in K-P Seranjam Khan, along with senior leaders from Mardan including former provincial information minister Abdul Subhan Khan, resigned in protest against Sardar Mehtab’s appointment as the chief organiser without their consent.
Mehtab’s replacement with Shah will help the PML-N to regain some of its lost strength as Shah is more popular among the Pashtu-speaking political workers due to his command on the language which Mehtab doesn’t have.
Mehtab’s constant absence from K-P, especially from Peshawar, is also being considered as his disqualification to head the party in the province.
“Earlier Sharif didn’t bother much about the resignation of Seranjam Khan. But after the resignation of PML-N bigwig Javed Hashmi, he has been forced to change his attitude towards senior leaders of the party,” a senior PML-N leader told The Express Tribune.
A party source said that Khan has objected to a list of PML-N councillors who will elect the party’s provincial leadership on December 28. “The list has been prepared by Rehmat Salam Khattak to get himself re-elected as provincial secretary general,” Seranjam reportedly told Sharif, who promised to look into the matter.
The party’s provincial elections are taking place after Sharif’s talks with provincial President of PML-Q Amir Muqam failed to yield anything.
Sources said that Muqam wants to become provincial president of PML-N and has set this as a precondition for talks with Sharif.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2011.