ATTOCK: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers in Attock seem to lack enthusiasm for the upcoming elections due to absence of a dynamic leadership, despite having a huge ideological vote bank.
The party does not have any candidate for two constituencies, while four of the total eight constituencies in Attock lack strong candidates.
The only hope for PPP is in NA-59 and PP-15 seats, where former state minister Sardar Saleem Haider and former Member of Provincial Assembly Malik Shahan Khan had won in the 2008 elections.
But even here, both aspirants will now face a tough competition due to a strong campaign by their rivals, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Political analysts believe the people would not support the PPP, as the government had failed to control price hikes or the energy crisis.
Furthermore, they observed that one premier from the PPP (Yusuf Raza Gilani) had been barred from contesting elections, while another (Raja Pervaiz Ashraf) had narrowly escaped a similar fate after he was allowed to contest the elections conditionally.
The analysts said PPP was well-known in Attock due to the presence of Malik Hakmeen, a loyalist of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Later on, Benazir Bhutto also recognised his services by awarding the ticket of PP-15 to Malik Hakmeen’s son, Malik Shahan Khan.
However, following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the new leadership sidelined Mr Hakmeen, but was able to win three of the eight seats (NA-59, PP-15 and PP-19) in 2008 because of the public sympathy for Ms Bhutto.
After 2008, the anti-Hakmeen lobby became active, ending his dominance in the party.
Sardar Saleem Haider was appointed PPP’s district president, but his political activities were focused on his own constituency (NA-59).
Political analysts believe this was the time when PPP’s position started deteriorating in the district, but the party high command failed to take notice.
As a result, the PPP lost the PP-18 seat in the February 2012 by-elections, which had been vacated after PPP’s former MPA, Malik Khurram, joined the PTI.
Disappointed by the party, some old PPP leaders, including former district president Rana Afsar Ali Khan and Sheikh Ghias , also left the party recently and joined former district nazim Major (Retired) Tahir .
Former district general secretary of the PPP, Dr Naeem Awan, is contesting PP-16, while two newcomers will contest PP-17 and PP-18, but none of these is a strong candidate.
Furthermore, the PPP could not find any candidate for NA-58 and PP-19, despite the fact that the PPP’s Sardar Shahnawaz had bagged 50,354 votes in NA-58 in the previous elections against the 70,613 votes of PML-Q stalwart Ch Pervaiz Elahi.
In NA-57, the PPP has given the party ticket to Pakistan Aman Party’s chief Haji Gulzar to show its presence. However, being an outsider, Haji Gulzar does not have the support of the PPP workers.
A dejected PPP worker said no prominent party leader had bothered to visit the area despite less than three weeks to the elections.
“Leaders of other parties are much more active; PML-N leader Shahbaz Sharif will visit the area this Friday, while PTI chief Imran Khan is also expected to come in the next few days,” he said.
The 65-year-old Mr Hakmeen is not in a position to counter the rise of PPP’s opponents, but he is actively mustering support for his son from PP-15.
Mr Shahan’s major focus in the ongoing election campaign is to motivate voters to judge his five year individual performance instead of the party’s overall performance.