RAWALPINDI: Former minister in Benazir Bhutto’s first cabinet Raja Shahid Zafar has joined the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).
He is likely to formally announce his decision during the expected visit of PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif to his house on Monday.
Three friends of Shahid Zafar are already in the electoral fray. They are Jaffar Hussain Shah from PP-6, who also contested the 2008 elections in the same constituency and got 16788 votes; Chaudhry Waris from PP-9 and Chaudhry Masood Akhter from PP-10.
These three candidates will also announce retirement from the electoral arena in favour of the PML-N.
The former minister of state for production and industries, Raja Shahid Zafar, was elected MNA twice from the cantonment areas NA-39 which was bifurcated into NA-54 and NA-52 in 2002.
Shahid Zafar was the traditional rival of PML-Q leader Raja Basharat as both contested the district council chairmanship election in 1979.
Though Shahid Zafar got 12 votes against his rival’s 22, he won the National Assembly seat in 1985 with 60,000 votes as an independent candidate due to the boycott of the elections by the PPP.
He retained the seat in the 1988 elections on the PPP ticket with 64,555 votes and became minister in the first cabinet of Ms Bhutto. However, he lost the seat in 1990 elections when it was won by Ijazul Haq.
Shahid Zafar, who owned the famous Ghakhar Plaza in Saddar, is known as a representative of the Ghakhar clan or Raja Biradari in the district. He got annoyed with the party after it supported his archrival Raja Basharat of the PML-Q in NA-52.
The PPP sources told Dawn that former opposition leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Shahid Zafar were friends and both started their politics from the district council of Rawalpindi.
They said Chaudhry Nisar managed to convince Shahid Zafar to join the PML-N and influence his Biradri to vote for him in NA-52 against Raja Basharat who is the joint candidate of the PPP and the PML-Q. It may be noted that Shahid Zafar’s relatives live in a large number in the constituency.
“Chaudhry Nisar is likely to vacate NA-52 in case he also wins NA-53 to field Shahid Zafar for the by-election on the PML-N ticket,” they explained the deal between the two.
When contacted, Shahid Zafar said he had left the PPP as it was no more the party of Bhutto and Benazir. “The present leadership is running the affairs of the party as an enterprise and former military dictator’s cronies are ruling it,” he said.
“Chaudhry Nisar came to my house three days back and asked me to join the PML-N. I consulted my Biradri and friends and they agreed to my joining of the PML-N without demanding any party ticket,” he said.
“I am fed up with the wrong policies of Asif Ali Zardari and his cronies. They spoiled the party’s ideology and done nothing for the people in general and party workers in particular.”
He confirmed that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was expected to visit his house on Monday and he would formally announce to join the PML-N.
When contacted, PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan also confirmed that Shahid Zafar would join the party. However, he was not aware about the date of the meeting in this regard.