‘Influential Political Families Drifting Away From Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’

(PKONWEB) — With general elections expected to be held this summer, things don’t seem to be going too well with Pakistan Peoples Party as many influential political families of Sindh– PPP’s traditional stronghold, are reportedly interested in joining other political parties or independent groups.

PPP was in power in province of Sindh and in the center during the period 2008-2013. Thereafter, PPP lost its hold in the center to Punjab-based PML-Nawaz and remained in control of Sindh government.

The country’s largest moderately-toned left of the center political force that the PPP has traditionally enjoyed being, is now attempting to make a countrywide comeback– a long haul some observers say despite its recent successes in resetting its ideological moorings and in roping in some electables– the recent inclusion of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz minority MNA Bhawan Das and other leaders before the polls.

Dissension among its traditional power horses seems to be making PPP’s top brains: Zardari, Bilawal et al go on an overdrive to woo them back.

Among such dissident families is the Mahar family of Khangarh in Ghotki district who have a history of correctly predicting which party gets the majority in Sindh and then joining that party. After almost 10 years’ association with the PPP, the family is planning to turn its back on it, report The Express Tribune.

Sources privy to the development informed The Express Tribune that senior leaders of the Mahar group avoided meeting with PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari when the latter visited Ghotki on Friday.

“For the last few months, the PPP leadership has been trying to woo them but nothing has come of it,” sources revealed. It has also been said that two days before Bilawal’s visit to the area, the PPP leadership sent former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah to Khangarh to negotiate with the Mahars, however, they spared him hardly 20 minutes and possibly informed him that the family was not going to align itself with the ruling party in the upcoming elections.

The Mahar family, which has not lost an election in a long time, enjoys widespread influence in Ghotki district. The Mahars have never been permanent loyalists to any government or party. Before joining the PPP in 2007, they were affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid that supported General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. It was during that era when Ali Muhammad was elected Sindh chief minister.

“Instead of re-organizing the party at grass root level, our party is merely focusing on electability of newcomers without [keeping in view] their past conduct,” a PPP stalwart who has now been sidelined said on the basis of anonymity. He added that the incumbent chief minister and PPP MNA Faryal Talpur both contacted the Mahars but they refused to meet them even in their hometown.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Gohar said they had been ignored by the PPP and issues in their constituencies had not been resolved. “We have not formally parted ways with the party but ground realities show that we can’t go with it in the future,” he said.

Besides the Mahar family, there has been resentment brewing among party leaders in other districts too. MPA Nadir Magsi and his brother MNA Amir Magsi have reportedly been sidelined for quite some time. There are reports that both brothers who belong to the chieftain family of the Magsi tribe of Sindh and Balochistan have expressed reluctance to contest elections on PPP tickets in the future. “Almost all PPP leaders, including Bilawal, Asif Zardari and even Talpur, have held a number of meetings with them, but the Magsi family members are not comfortable with the party. Another meeting between [PPP leaders and] them is scheduled in Karachi,” said sources familiar with the development.

The Makhdooms of Hala, who have historically supported the PPP through thick and thin, have also reportedly announced that they will field their own candidates in the elections. The Makhdooms are the chiefs of the Sarwari Jamaat whose adherents live throughout Sindh. The late Makhdoom Amin Fahim was one of the trusted companions of Benazir Bhutto, however, after Benazir’s assassination and Zardari’s take-over of the PPP, the Makhdooms have continually complained of being sidelined in the party.

Meanwhile, the PPP claims that there have been no rifts within the party. PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, while speaking to the media a few days ago, rejected such impressions, claiming that the party would sweep the upcoming polls and bring in its own chief minister in the province again. “No one will leave,” he said, adding that there have always been differences of opinion among party leaders on various issues, but no one parted ways due to these differences.

Some political observers PKonweb talked to, said the PPP seems to be making some inroads in Karachi city  a stronghold of MQM but facing flux due to splits and disarray in its rank and file. Therefore, any electoral loss in rural Sindh could be offsetted by some wins in the megacity either on their own or though electoral alliances and give-and-take.

(The original report appeared in The Express Tribune)

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