- After Ashraf Sohna and Abbas Raza Rizvi, Bukhari resigns from PPP, expected to join PTI soon
- In resignation letter to Zardari, Bukhari laments PPP’s reconciliatory approach towards PML-N
- PTI’s Qureshi making inroads in PPP, convinces Dr Shabbir and Khawaja Mehmood into joining PTI
Contrary to assurances to his party’s provincial leadership that he was not leaving the party despite “pressure”, former state minister Syed Samsam Ali Bukhari wrote to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on June 29, resigning from the offices of information secretary and PPP Punjab vice president.
“I am sure that you are fully aware of how much I have always respected and looked up to you for advice and counsel, and you have always been very gracious in protecting the interests of my constituents, and your generosity towards me has been phenomenal. I shall always cherish our political as well as personal relationship, which shall forever remain deeply etched in my mind,” states Bukhari’s resignation letter.
“You will recall, Excellency, that despite extremely positive overtures from other political groups prior to the last general elections, I remained true and steadfast with the party and was totally committed to its ideals. However, the party’s inexplicable support of the PML-N and an almost avowed policy of reconciliation since being voted out of office has seriously impaired the party’s political stature in the Punjab province, and has become a cause of serious concern for my constituents and political allies,” Bukhari wrote, explaining his reasons for calling it quits.
“Despite my persistent pleas to you, Excellency, for the party to play constructive and meaningful role as the main opposition group, the party has unfortunately made no attempt to regain its rightful foothold in the Punjab province and is in fact being seen and criticised by all as a friendly opposition that is likely to soon fade into oblivion,” Bukhari stated in his letter, adding that although he may no longer be in the party yet he “shall continue to hold you in the highest esteem and look forward to working together with you for the peace and prosperity of Pakistan and for the preservation of democracy”.
According to party sources, Bukhari was convinced by former PPP veteran Abbas Raza Rizvi who had joined PTI on May 20, after they met Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ejaz Chaudhry and former Punjab governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Rizvi said that he had left the party because PPP Punjab was working as “B-team” of PML-N and not fulfilling its role of an opposition party.
Rizvi, who was also the Naib District Nazim from 2001-2005, had been associated with PPP since 1985 and had contested from the national and provincial assembly seats on PPP ticket.
According to sources in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Bukhari met PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday at his Bani Gala residence and is likely to formally join PTI “anytime now”.
According to PPP insiders, Bukhari, Ashraf Sohna and Rizvi’s resignations from the party would be a huge blow to PPP in central Punjab and particularly in Okara where these leaders could have played a decisive role in mobilising the workers and voters at the grassroots.
THE BATTLE FOR ‘SOUTH PUNJAB’:
According to party insiders, PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi is continuing to make inroads in PPP as he had managed to convince Dr Shabbir Qureshi from Muzaffargarh and Khawaja Sheerazul Mehmood, former federal minister from Dera Ghazi Khan, into joining PTI.
Citing his family’s contributions to PPP, Dr Qureshi, son of former MNA Mohsin Ali Qureshi, told Pakistan Today that Khalida Mohsin Ali Qureshi had won NA-176 (Muzaffargarh -I) for PPP in 2002 while Mohsin Ali Qureshi had won 2008 elections.
“They had really worked hard in the constituency but in 2013 General Elections former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani completely ignored them and instead awarded the party ticket to Muhammad Arshad Abbas Qureshi, the son of a local landlord Abbas Qureshi,” he said.
“Since general elections, we were not on good terms with PPP South Punjab leadership and when Qureshi Sahab (Shah Mehmood Qureshi) gave us respect and contacted us I decided to join the party,” said Qureshi.
However, PPP South Punjab office bearers rejected his claims saying that ahead of 2013 elections, Mohsin Ali Qureshi went into a coma and Shabbir Qureshi was too young for the constituency with little or no penetration amongst the masses. Thus, the party decided to give him the provincial assembly ticket instead of National Assembly ticket and it proved to be a correct decision as he lost the provincial assembly seat, they said.
Both Qureshi and Khawaja Sheeraz Mehmood, former federal state minister, had joined the party last week. Mehmood had won the elections in NA-171 both in 2002 and 2008 from PML-Q’s platform and was later made a minister in PPP-led coalition government. However, he contested 2013 elections from PPP’s platform which he lost to PML-N.
‘NAYA PAKISTAN’ WITH CORRUPT LEADERS?
In the meanwhile, PPP South Punjab’s General Secretary Shaukat Basra told Pakistan Today that people like Khawaja Sheeraz and Shabbir Qureshi had vested interests and they were leaving the party for their personal gains. “But let me tell them that they would certainly end their political careers like the people who had left PPP in the past,” he said.
“We will see if Imran Khan has cleaning devices at his Bani Gala residence with which he will clean the PPP leaders whom he used to call corrupt. Will they become innocent after joining PTI? Shame on PTI leadership which is begging PPP leaders to join their party for the formation of ‘Naya Pakistan’,” Basra said.
“Shah Mehmood Qureshi should never forget that all the fame he has today is because of PPP which made him minister several times. Even his father became Punjab governor because of PPP. Soon he will see a difference in the respect he had in PPP and now in PTI. He should stop hatching conspiracies against PPP,” he said.
Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has summoned PPP Punjab President Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo at Bilawal House in Karachi today (Thursday) for a one-on-one meeting regarding the situation facing the party in the province.