CHAKWAL, Feb 3: At a PML-N convention last week, workers voiced their frustrations with the party leadership, over its recent plan to bring a former district nazim into the party fold.

According to PML-N workers, the party is contemplating the inclusion of Sardar Ghulam Abbas, a former district nazim, who recently left the PTI.

Chairing the convention, former PML-N district president Ziaul Hassan Zaidi, claimed that party workers had been treated unfairly during Ghulam Abbas’s eight years as nazim. He suggested that there was no need to include him in the PML-N. “What will PML-N gain by including him,” he asked.

“We already have three or four potential candidates in each constituency. There is no need to bring Sardar Ghulam Abbas into the PML-N,” he said.

While the PML-N may have potential candidates in each constituency, a long-running dispute between two of its most prominent local leaders, MNA Ayaz Amir and district president Chaudhry Liaquat Ali Khan, has introduced a new rift in the party.

Beginning with disagreements over issues such as the registering of FIRs and the transfers of officials, the rift reached its peak, when the two supported different candidates in a traders’ union election that was widely perceived to be a struggle over the National Assembly seat.

The rift between Ayaz Amir and Chaudhry Liaquat Ali has paralysed PML-N politics in Chakwal, said a PML-N worker.

Due to the tussle, for the past five years, the party, the most popular in the district, was unable to open its office in the district. As a result, to speak with local representatives, constituents were forced to visit their homes, complained a party worker.

The speakers at the convention called on the two men to set aside their differences for the sake of the party, in light of the challenges in the upcoming elections.

Important to note that Ayaz Amir had expressed ‘serious concerns’ about inclusion of Ghulam Abbas in the PML-N, but Chaudhry Liaquat Ali had disappointed party workers, by saying “I will respect the decision that the party high command takes.”

However, Ayaz Amir refused to comment on the issue, though Chaudhry Liaquat Ali promised to discuss the issue of Sardar Ghulam Abbas with all the PML-N local leaders, before deciding on a course of action.

Although these are not the only problems threatening the PML-N’s grip on Chakwal.

MNA Ayaz Amir has been publicly criticised by local clerics for his newspaper columns, in which he has taken a strong stance against religious extremism and argued for a liberal and secular society.

A colleague, Lt-Gen (retired) Abdul Majeed Malik, a five-term MNA, worried that Mr Amir’s stance might cost the party the ‘religious vote’ it had always counted on.

“Ayaz Amir writes very well and speaks the truth, but as a public representative, he is public property,” he said. “An MNA has to be very careful what he does.”

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