The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Sindh chapter decided to appoint its leaders this time, instead of going for the usual elections for party posts.
The appointment of Ismail Raho as the provincial president and Nehal Hashmi as secretary-general was made through a notification, instead of intra-party elections. This seemingly undemocratic decision has widened the rifts that have developed between the party members.
The new officials have vowed to reorganise the party but some senior officials are refusing to take orders. In fact, a majority of the party's Sindh leadership, such as Ghous Ali Shah, Mumtaz Bhutto, Liaquat Jatoi, Zain Ansari, Arbab Ghulam Rahim and the Jatoi brothers of Naushero Feroze (who merged their National Peoples Party with PML-N) refused to attend the party meeting on July 26 that was held at Raho's house.
According to sources privy to the development, the 'unilateral' decision of PML-N's central president Nawaz Sharif to appoint Sindh leaders has irked these senior members, who feel that they should have been consulted. "The appointment of a new president and secretary-general is a violation of the party manifesto, which says that these positions are to be filled after proper elections in which the Sindh council members cast their votes," said an enraged party leader, on the condition of anonymity.
The last elections in the party were held in 2011, when Ghous Ali Shah and Mamnoon Hussain, the current president of Pakistan, contested against each other. A majority of the members voted for Shah, who resigned from his position in May 2013, soon after the party was defeated by the Pakistan Peoples Party in the general elections.
Even those who joined the party recently are unhappy. Mumtaz Bhutto's son, Ameer Bux Bhutto, said they are continuously ignored at every meeting even though they merged their Sindh National Front party with the PML-N. "We were not even invited to the recent meeting. No one called us," he complained, adding that they have serious concerns over the process inducting new people into the party. Ameer said they are thinking about their future line of action. "We have started consultations with our people and will give our reaction later on whether or not we can continue our affiliation with the PML-N," he said.
Meanwhile, Shah Mehmood Shah, who has been given the senior vice-president position, insisted they had invited all party leaders. "What can I do if they did not turn up at the party meeting?" he asked.
"The general council has given the right to the central president of the party to make decisions about provincial bodies that is why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, being the chief of the party, made the decision," he explained. The party's Sindh chapter will hold a public meeting soon to start organising the party at the grass-roots levels in the province. Shah Mehmood, who has jumped ship between four different parties since 2000, claimed the previous leadership had failed to deliver in the province. "This is why the new faces have been given a chance to strengthen the party in Sindh," he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.