ISLAMABAD, Nov 29: PPP’s new warrior in Punjab Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo has claimed that the strategy he has prepared will see a number of defections from the PML-N before the next general elections.
“Let the caretaker set-up come up and you will see that happen,” the newly-appointed president of the Punjab chapter of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) told Dawn on Thursday.
“We will give you big surprises,” Mr Wattoo said when asked if any PML-N heavyweight could join the PPP. He claimed that a number of leaders, including sitting and former legislators, belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) were already in contact with him.
He referred to a meeting he had arranged on Wednesday between a former PML-N MNA from Okara, Rao Qaiser Ali Khan, and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and indicated that he might join the PPP in the near future.
Mr Wattoo was of the view that the award of party tickets to new entrants to contest the elections would not demoralise the PPP diehards because they also wanted it to win the polls.
“Wherever we will get an opportunity we will award tickets to party workers as well,” he said.
He said that no other party in the country had dedicated and steadfast workers like the PPP.
The PPP leader said the party’s workers were now prepared to give a tough fight to their opponents in the province.
About the issue of seat adjustment with the PML-Q in Punjab, Mr Wattoo expressed the hope that the two parties would resolve the matter amicably.
He said his party had no dispute with the PML-Q regarding most of the constituencies in Punjab and winners of the last elections belonging to either party would have the first right to the seat. “There are very few constituencies where intervention of the leadership (of the two parties) will be required,” he added.
Meanwhile, sources said a proposal to field Ayesha Ahad Malik to contest the elections against Hamza Shahbaz, whom she claims to be her husband, was being discussed in party circles as the Punjab PPP was busy working out a plan to give a tough fight to the PML-N.
The sources said the PPP leadership had given a go-ahead to put the proposal before its ally PML-Q to which Ayesha’s father belonged.
An office-bearer of the PPP had already met Ayesha Ahad in Lahore and discussed the matter with her, the sources said.
When contacted, the PPP office-bearer confirmed the meeting but said it was only a courtesy call as he had gone to enquire after the health of her father who, he claimed, was his old friend and had previously been with the PPP.
The proposal, however, is unlikely to materialise since PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is personally against it.
“We will not support any such idea, if it is anywhere,” Chaudhry Shujaat said when contacted. “We do not want to take the elections to such a (personal) level.”
Although Mr Wattoo expressed his ignorance about any such proposal, he did not rule out the possibility of fielding Ayesha Ahad against MNA Hamza Shahbaz for a Lahore seat. “Everyone has the right to contest the election from anywhere,” he said when asked about the possibility.
Ayesha Ahad had made an appeal to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry at a news conference in Islamabad last year to take suo motu notice of her case and provide justice and protection to her and her family.
She had alleged that she was being pressurised by members of the Sharif family to leave the country.
She alleged that the Lahore Defence police had registered a ‘false and baseless case’ against her on the directives of the chief minister and his son.
Punjab Governor Latif Khosa has also criticised the provincial government several times for allegedly inflicting torture on the woman and said her complaint should be entertained.