No prominent figure joined party, former MNA Noor Alam quit PPP
PESHAWAR: Contrary to expectations, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari was unable to rope in any prominent political figure to the party during his five-day visit to the provincial capital.
Cynics said Zardari even couldn’t help patch up differences among annoyed party leaders during his much-trumpeted trip.Some hardcore PPP workers maintained that Zardari spent most of his time at lunch and dinner receptions hosted by rich party leaders and influential political figures.
They argued that Zardari, who is former president of Pakistan, couldn’t hold workers’ convention to learn about the grievances of workers.“The party workers had attached high expectations to the visit of Asif Zardari. They were hoping he would address the growing resentment among workers towards the party leadership,” said a PPP activist who wished to remain anonymous.
Zardari stayed at the residence of PPP provincial president Humayun Khan located in the strictly guarded Peshawar Cantonment, which was largely inaccessible to the common party workers.
However, those who did manage to reach the place were allegedly rouged up by Zardari’s personal security guards forcing them to register protests.The local PPP leaders had claimed that 10 to 12 important political figures including three MPAs from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would join the party.But the party received a blow when former Member National Assembly Noor Alam Khan quit PPP.
He accused the PPP leadership of promoting the corrupt and sidelining sincere workers.The workers were hoping that Zardari would listen to their grievances and woo the dissidents in order to invigorate the party.
Some political observers said though Zardari made claims about winning the upcoming general election, it would not be an easy task as the PPP workers were largely demoralised and disenchanted with the party leadership due to its indifferent attitude towards them.
They took the plea that the recommendations of the five-member PPP committee that visited every nook and corner of the province to seek opinion of workers about strengthening the party were largely overlooked and most of the provincial level office-bearers were handpicked by the central leadership.
A group of capitalists, a PPP worker complained, had surrounded Zardari during his visit and he couldn’t reach out to party workers and remained confined to drawing rooms.Some PPP workers recalled that late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto visited the residence of party leader Syed Qamar Abbas in Gulbahar locality when she came to Peshawar.
They said Benazir Bhutto had declared Qamar Abbas as her brother, but Zardari visited the residences of rich leaders.The workers recalled that Benazir Bhutto used to exchange pleasantries with workers and gave them prizes. “Benazir Bhutto Shaheed respected the workers who were proud of her and they never hesitated to render any sacrifice for the party,” opined another worker.
He lamented that the poor PPP workers couldn’t meet Zardari as his security guards manhandled several party workers. However, PPP provincial president Humayun Khan termed Zardari’s visit extremely successful.
“He mobilised party workers, met with elders and delegations from various walks of life. This was his first visit and he would come again and spend three to four days at every division in the province to meet the workers in their respective areas,” he elaborated.
He said: “Yes, his residence was in the Cantonment and the people had to face routine checkup on checkposts. We cannot compromise on security. We have already given sacrifice of 800 workers and our leaders were targetted in previous elections,” he added.
Humayun Khan was confident that many political figures, including sitting PTI MPAs, would soon join the PPP. He added that some of them had their own compulsions and would join the PPP at an opportune time.