PESHAWAR, Dec 2: A clear-cut change in the leadership’s policy on alliance with other political parties for the next general elections has offered a glimmer of hope to the disgruntled Pakistan People’s Party workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who are expecting resolution of their longstanding grievances.
Many senior leaders and activists are unhappy with the statements of provincial PPP president Anwar Saifullah Khan that his party believed in solo flight in the elections because it had suffered a lot due to coalition with Awami National Party.
During speeches on different occasions, he made it clear that PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari had empowered him to adopt effective party policy, strengthen the party, ensure the winning of the maximum number of national and provincial assembly seats and form the next government in the province.
The first success of the new provincial president was induction of the neglected party activists in the PPP cabinets at different levels because they were the people who had always raised voice against the party ministers.
Talking to Dawn, a number of senior party activists expressed the hope that the new leadership might give attention on problems being faced by old workers, who always suffered hardships due to association with the party.
However, differences also persist among workers over the replacement of some office-bearers in different districts and tehsils in the province.
It is perhaps the only party that its workers openly express views, climb on the stage, shout slogans against the party leaders, ministers and speak to media in case they feel it necessary.
Till now a number of workers conventions were held in different areas like Peshawar, Mardan, Dargai, Batkhela, Charsadda, Swat and Dir but in some districts the workers strongly reacted against their replacement. The recent example is the clash which took place in Governor’s House Peshawar, Mardan etc where the leaders had to summarise the speeches to overcome the chaos.
Israr Khan Nahqai, a former Peshawar district president, who was replaced with MPA Malik Tahmash Khan, said the replacement of office-bearers was illegal as the workers had not been taken into confidence in this regard.
Another provincial level leader, who requested anonymity, criticised the party’s policy to allot tickets to the sitting MNAs and MPAs for the next general elections and feared that the annoyed workers would not vote them again because they had betrayed to activists whenever approached for jobs or any other work.
“The ministers are avoiding attending our telephones then how we will support them in the elections and the decision to field the same people in the elections will be against the philosophy of Zulfiqar Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto,” he recalled.
However, provincial spokesman of the party Liaquat Shabab, who is also provincial minister for excise and taxation, told Dawn that his party had suffered losses due to the coalition with ANP and many of the people had left PPP during the government tenure.
“Our party also faced problems due to rumours about ANP-PPP possible alliance in future but now the new provincial leadership managed to clarify the situation and thus the annoyed workers, leaders started coming back,” the minister claimed.
During the past three years, he said the party endured might problems as the workers were uneasy with the ANP, but now the party would get boost in all parts of the province.“Some of our people had left the party because of a negative propaganda that PPP will support the ANP candidates who had major vote bank in a constituency as compare to our candidates,” he said and added that such reports did not reflect policy of his party.
Mr Shabab said not only the party’s estranged people would come back but many of the active leaders of other parties would also join PPP. He said former central general secretary of PML-N Women Wing MPA Shazia Aurangzeb, who said goodbye to PML-N and joined PPP, was an example in this respect.
He claimed that Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid provincial spokesperson and MPA Nighat Orakzai had also agreed to join PPP on Dec 3.
Similarly, he said former provincial minister Iftikhar Khan Jhagra had joined Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf due to the uncertain party policy but he would come back to PPP on Dec 4 on eve of a visit of MNA Faryal Talpur to Peshawar.
The reorganisation process of the party is in fact a very difficult process and similarly the selection of candidates for elections but only time will prove as to what extent the provincial leadership could sustain the opposition of workers in the process.