Shifting allegiances: PPP senior leader Islamuddin defects to PML-N

Published: May 16, 2015
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GILGIT: Another leader of Pakistan Peoples Party in Gilgit-Baltistan has decided to join Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, making the latter’s position stronger before the legislative elections scheduled for June 8.

Islamuddin, a senior PPP leader, announced his decision during a news conference at Gilgit Press Club on Saturday. The meeting was attended by a large number of his supporters – who also joined the party – and PML-N leaders, including the party’s regional chief Hafizur Rehman.

“I have decided to join PML-N in the larger interest of the people,” he said. “I trust the party’s leadership and have taken this decision after much thought and consultation with my family and supporters.”

Islamuddin was planning to contest elections in GBLA 2 constituency before he decided to jump ship. The senior PPP leader had contested the 2009 elections as an independent candidate but did not win.

Speaking on the occasion, PML-N’s regional chief Rehman welcomed Islamuddin and his supporters into the party.  “Islamuddin’s decision indicates that people are investing their trust in our party,” he added.

Mass defection

In recent weeks, a large number of political leaders in G-B have joined PML-N. Awami National Party leader Aurangzeb Khan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Gilgit-Baltistan chapter leader Raja Azam and various PPP leaders – including Agha Foker and Yahya Shah – have jumped ship and joined the ranks of PML-N. Even senior members of PPP’s ulema wing have shifted their allegiance to the party.

Balance of power  

PML-N has also gained widespread support from local communities. On Friday, Joway, an influential community in Jaglot Sai, threw their weight behind PML-N. This show of support has increased Rehman’s chances of winning the elections as the community has a vote bank of over 1,000 votes.

Moreover, the PML-N is also likely to benefit from PPP’s decision to issue a party ticket to Javed Hussain in Nagar constituency rather than Muhammad Ali Akhtar, a senior leader.

Addressing a news conference on Friday, Akhtar said the decision reflects a lapse of judgment by his party’s leadership. Nevertheless, the PPP leader, who served as finance minister in the regional government, said he is determined to contest the polls even though he was not issued a ticket. According to analysts, the PML-N is likely to capitalise on these differences to ensure its victory in the legislative elections. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2015.

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