In a bid to pre-empt the possible emergence of a Muttahidda Muslim League (MML) and to retain his party’s main organisational structure in Sindh, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appealed for steps to remove differences within the Sindh chapter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N, The Express Tribune has learnt. At the same time, the prime minister approved “a package for the provincial party workers”.
According to an official communiqué, the PM met with his party’s chief in Sindh Ismail Rahu, General Secretary Nehal Hashmi, senior vice president Shah Muhammad Shah, central vice president Saleem Zia. Railways Miister Khawaja Saad Rafique was also present at the meeting.
The handout said party matters and the overall political situation in the country came under discussion. However, sources privy to the development said the PM and the Sindh office-bearers’ discussed the recent meeting of disgruntled PML-N members, who had gathered at residence of Pir Syed Sadruddin Shah.
According to sources, four former chief ministers of Sindh — Mumtaz Bhutto, Ghous Ali Shah, Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Liaquat Jatoi — want to form the MML under Pir of Pagara and wish to attract all the PML-N’s disgruntled members, including Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa from Punjab, to join the alliance.
Sources said the PM Nawaz, who is also the party’s central president, asked Sindh’s office-bearers to revive the party’s organisation and to counter the move. He asked the party organisation to focus on party workers and to ignore former politicians, who had no more room in the party.
Differences within party
According to sources, there are three groups in the PML-N Sindh Chapter – a situation which troubles the PM as he wants to see a strong organisation in the province.
The first group comprises Saleem Zia, Imdad Chandio and Zain Ansari. The second group is led by President Mamnoon Hussain and the PML-N’s central information secretary and the third group includes Ghous Ali Shah and Mumtaz Bhutto, who have also declared themselves the party head in Sindh.
Two months ago, Nawaz Sharif had obliged Mamnoon group and appointed his group as party head in Sindh. Apart from the, the PM also accommodated Saleem Zia and Imdad Chandio and appointed them party’s central vice presidents in the centre.
Sources said the premier urged the participants to immediately remove their differences and to focus on uniting the party in Sindh. Nawaz Sharif will also meet other disgruntled workers of the party from Sindh, they added.
Package for workers
The sources said the PM also approved an incentives package – including jobs for party workers in federal departments, establishment of railway stations in the party’s core constituencies, provision of gas and circular railway for Karachi.
They said the prime minister asked the office-bearers to prepare a list of party workers for jobs and to identify those areas where the federal government should focus on development activities.
According to sources, the office-bearers showed their reservations on the Karachi operation; meanwhile Saleem Zia was made the focal person to address the issues.
PTI’s move in Sindh
Sources said that the members also discussed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) political manoeuvres for making inroads in the province.
The party’s Sindh office-bearers told Nawaz that the PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi was focusing on his followers — Ghosia Jamaat — and he would take time to lure the PML-N’s die hard workers in that province. Nawaz asked the participants to focus on rural Sindh and Karachites in the comings months.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Saleem Zia said the PM asked them to expand the party’s organisation in Sindh. He confirmed that party had sought jobs in federal government departments. “I am working hard for re-organisation of the party and hope that it will soon be revived in the province,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.