Trouble within the ranks of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) continued to brew, as party president Nawaz Sharif arrived in Quetta on Friday to oversee provincial elections and woo back disgruntled party members.
The results of the provincial elections, taking place on January 7, are likely to have a significant impact on the party. According to sources, annoyed factions of the Balochistan chapter of the PML-N have informed Nawaz that if their sacrifices are ‘not honoured’, they will start thinking about joining emerging rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – whose chief Imran Khan is scheduled to hold a public gathering in Quetta on March 23.
Earlier, Nawaz presided over a party meeting at Raiwind on Tuesday in which he tried to appease candidates for various provincial party slots, but seemed unable to fulfil his role as mediator, sources told The Express Tribune.
Five groups vie for prominence
Source say there are five groups in PML-N’s Balochistan chapter vying for prominence through the elections – but Nawaz, according to some disgruntled members, has ‘totally ignored’ the sacrifices of old party workers who faced the brunt of Musharraf’s policies towards Balochistan’s politicians after 1999. On the other hand, he has nominated those members for top positions who are considered either ‘newcomers’, or are sardars.
Sources added that of the five groups, the one led by veteran politician Baba Qadir Baloch from Sibi, along with old party workers, have contributed their time and finances to keep the party ‘alive’ post-1999. The second group is led by Sardar Yaqoob Nasir Khan, controversially deemed by some as a ‘Punjabi agent’ in Balochistan. Sources said that Yaqoob has been sidelined by Nawaz.
The third group is led by Khudae Noor consisting completely of new members, while the fourth is led by Sardar Khan and Rafique Awan.
The fifth group is led by newcomer Sardar Sanaullah Khan Zehri. Zehri has been nominated and is expected to be elected as the party’s Balochistan president. Yaqoob Nasir group member Naseebullah Khan Baragzai is likely to be elected as provincial general secretary as he has also been nominated by Nawaz.
Sources say that while the party chief may change the candidate for general secretary, he will not change the party president ‘at any cost’.
Saidal Khan, Yaqoob Nasir and Baba Qadir Baloch have been no less controversial as politicians in Balochistan, and it seems that their veteran status won them little favour in Raiwind on Tuesday.
Sindh elections increase suspicion
The dissatisfaction within PML-N ranks also seems to have increased in the wake of the recently held Sindh elections. Disgruntled members said that Nawaz’s decisions in the Sindh chapter have divided the party into four factions. They added that Hafeezuddin Sheikh and Qadir Mandokhel have categorically opposed Syed Ghous Ali Shah’s appointment, and almost all councillors have demanded that Zain Ansari be appointed as party president instead.
Some even went so far as to say that Nawaz has become a dictator in the party, and this dictatorship has forced Seranjam Khan from Khyber-Pakthunkhwa to consider bidding farewell to the party.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.