There are many who say that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) under Asif Ali Zardari has made it a policy to appease coalition partners, even at the cost of the party’s own interests.
Apparently, that doesn’t seem to be the case – as evidenced in a recent spat between PPP and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) over upcoming by-polls for Punjab Assembly seats, set to take place on May 7.
The PML-Q recently pushed for a joint candidate with the PPP under a seat adjustment/joint candidate agreement for PP-243 Dera Ghazi Khan-IV and PP-245 Dera Ghazi Khan-VI – however President Zardari is said to have categorically turned down the request. The president is said to have told the PML-Q’s senior leadership that the alliance was only for National Assembly seats, and not provincial seats.
Given the location of the seats in question, the rejection by PPP is in line with its recent political blitz in Punjab, more specifically southern parts of the province, spearheaded by the President Zardari himself.
PP-243 was vacated by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa and PP-245 by PML-Q’s own Sardar Mohsin Khan Leghari. Both MPAs resigned after their successful bids for Senate seats.
According to well-placed sources in PPP and PML-Q, no less than the Chaudhrys of Gujrat approached President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari as well as Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa to demand support for their candidate from PP-245, given that the seat was vacated by their candidate. But the Chaudhrys would have been surprised by the response that their alliance is restricted to National Assembly seats.
The Leghari-PTI factor
On April 13, following the PPP’s refusal, PML-Q fielded Muhammad Khan Leghari for the seat, but as an independent candidate. The PPP, meanwhile, has put forward Dr Saeed Buzdar to counter the Leghari-PML-Q alliance.
Interestingly, Sardar Mohsin Khan Leghari, who vacated the seat in the first place, was elected a senator as an independent candidate, and not from the platform of the PML-Q, and is said to be at odds with his party’s leadership.
The decision to contest the Senate seat as an independent candidate and the decision of another Leghari to contest the provincial seat in the same capacity is noteworthy. Prominent members of the Leghari family, the sons of the late former president Farooq Leghari, have already joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
In fact, one of the two sons, Awais, is a serving MNA from PML-Q, which had announced recently that it will move a reference against the Leghari scion for joining PTI while still holding his seat.
Ironically, the brothers are said to have approached the PTI Chairman Imran Khan to support Muhammad Khan Leghari. Those familiar with the politics of the area say that the Legharis want to use the success as way to effectively prove their electoral worth to the PTI.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.
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