Pakistan News

Failure in LG polls deepens rift in PPP

Failure in LG polls deepens rift in PPP

PESHAWAR: Soon after the May 30 local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, almost all the political parties have started internal evaluation of their strength, ratio of vote bank, number of the seats they won and coordination with rest of the parties, but Pakistan Peoples Party has fallen prey to serious internal differences.

Groupings in the party is now no secret because a strong group calling itself as ‘ideological’ has been demanding holding of intra-party elections for the past over two years, but the demand is yet to be accepted by the central leadership.

During the past two years, the leadership instead of seeking solution to the workers’ demands focused on replacement of provincial office-bearers. During this period (two years) the provincial presidents who were replaced include Rahim Dad Khan, Syed Zahir Ali Shah, Sardar Ali Khan and Anwar Saifullah Khan, and now romours are ripe about replacement of the sitting president Senator Khan Zada Khan.

No one can deny the fact that PPP has roots in masses and it got two chances to form government in the province when Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao was its provincial president, but his departure from the PPP led to downfall of the party. Former governor Barrister Masood Kausar and Khawaja Mohammad Khan have also served the party as provincial president after Sherpao, which means that the central leadership has been making experiments by replacing the office-bearers instead of taking concrete steps to restore past position of the party.

In the 2008 general elections the party again managed to get a niche as coalition partner with Awami National Party in the provincial government. It was a good opportunity for its leaders to avail of for reorganisation of the party structure, increasing its vote bank and activating disgruntled activists. It had 11 provincial ministers, five federal ministers (from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and one governor in the province, but even then no one paid attention to strengthening of the party which caused rifts.

During its tenure in power the workers frequently complained against the rude attitude of the PPP ministers and blamed them for ill-treatment, negligence and indulging in massive corruption. Being a democratic party its workers of different areas focused on holding separate meetings and started raising demand for the intra-party elections.

These differences deepened to the extent that caused severe damage to the party in the 2013 general elections. The PPP which had ruled the province twice in the past has now only five MPAs in the provincial assembly. On the other hand, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao established his own faction, later named as Qaumi Watan Party, and managed to win 10 seats, which means that the central leadership of PPP has never taken decisions on the basis of ground realities otherwise it would have never lost Mr Sherpao in the province. Of the former provincial presidents, Khwaja Mohammad Khan has joined PML-N, Masood Kausar is leading the ideological workers, and Anwar Saifullah Khan and Sardar Ali Khan have preferred to sit silent.

In the latest developments, Zahir Ali Shah has also joined hands with the ideological workers and demanded of the central leadership to replace the provincial office-bearers. The logic behind his demand is crushing defeat of the party in the May 30 LG elections despite the fact that it was part of the tripartite alliance with Awami National Party and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl.

Each of the ANP and JUI-F has managed to win over 100 seats of district council in the province, but PPP could not win even half of the seats compared to its allies. Several prominent leaders like Abdul Akbar Khan, Mian Muzaffar Shah, Engineer Tariq Khattak, Syed Ayub Shah, Khwaja Yawar Naseer, Saeed Ahmed Khan, Tahir Abbas, Azam Afridi, Masood Kausar, Bacha Hussain, Lal Mohammad Khan and Qasim Qasab were leading the ideological group, but some of them have now stopped attending its protest meetings after their sittings with the central leadership.

Majority of the ideological activists belongs to Peshawar, which is the provincial headquarters where the party has not yet established its secretariat. The strength of workers in the provincial metropolis can be judged from the fact that Zahir Ali Shah and city district president Zulfiqar Afghani also joined hands with them.

During his recent press conference Mr Shah said that the party’s defeat in the May 30 LG election was due to wrong policies of the provincial leadership and thus the cabinet should be dissolved so that new office-bearers could be appointed in consultation with the workers in relevant districts.

The workers are of the view that PPP should distance itself from the alliance with ANP because being a coalition partner the ANP ministers never paid attention to PPP workers. They also blame the JUI-F and ANP for not supporting the PPP candidates in the LG elections which led to its crushing defeat.

The failure in the recent elections was another issue at hand with the ideological workers who raised it at a time when the tripartite alliance had announced anti-government public meeting in Peshawar on June 16. The Peshawar city district organisation of the party, led by Zulfiqar Afghani and Zahir Ali Shah, and all the loser candidates had also asked the party workers to avoid attending the protest meeting of the tripartite alliance as PPP had nothing to do with it.

This issue put the provincial leadership in a very awkward situation and had reaffirmed its stand against the provincial government and commitment with the alliance. It was, however, an embarrassing situation for the leadership and it had to bring workers from surrounding districts to show PPP’s presence in the rally. Unfortunately, majority of the office-bearers belong to other districts and have least influence on the workers in Peshawar. Provincial president Khan Zada Khan belongs to Mardan, senior vice-president Najamuddin Khan is from Upper Dir, general secretary engineer Mohammed Humayun Khan Batkhela, Malakand Agency and secretary information Liaquat Shabab (presently in custody of Ehtesab Commission) belongs to Nowshera, and it has become a compulsion for them to have cordial relations with Peshawar-based workers.

Insiders said that the disgruntled workers had also attached great expectations to the visit of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari to Peshawar to redress their grievances, but he also did not pay serious attention to their demands. “He came to the residence of former federal minister Arbab Alamgir, spoke to some selected people and did not talk to unhappy activists,” the sources said.

The workers said that now there were rumours about dissolution of the provincial cabinet for the reason that it had failed to reorganise the party and show good performance in the recent elections. Insiders told this correspondent that PPP organisations in Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan have also been dissolved due to almost similar issues.

Efforts were made to get version of provincial president Khan Zada Khan, but he could not be contacted on phone. However, Rahim Dad Khan, who belongs to Mardan and is playing an active role in the tripartite alliance, when contacted, denied having any information about the dissolution of provincial cabinet.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2015

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