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GUJRAT: The Pakistan People’s Party has suffered a big blow in the central Punjab where party stalwart from Gujrat, former MNA Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali Gull, finally announced severing of his three-decade old ties with the PPP, also quitting all the party positions, including the membership of its Central Executive Committee.

In his resignation addressed to Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Mr Gull said he had already requested both of the leaders to allow him an “honorable exit” from the PPP as, he felt, there was no space left for him in the party.

“I find my self a stranger in the party now as I am not compatible with the current new and corporate culture of the party. I am left with no other option but to withdraw myself from the party and it is the saddest day of my life to end (my) 30 years of struggle and association with the PPP,” Mr Gull says in his resignation.

Also resigns as member of party’s central executive

He told Dawn that he had held a meeting with Mr Zardari a few weeks ago in Islamabad and shared all his apprehensions regarding the party policy, including its leadership’s closeness to the Chaudhrys of PML-Q, who were his (Gull’s) arch political rivals in Gujrat. Moreover, he said, he had been marginalised in the party by none other than the party leadership itself.

However, he did not disclose his future plans and that whether he was joining any other party or not. To a query in this regard, he said that he would hold consultations with his political aides and family members prior to deciding joining any other party. He, however, vowed to contest the next general elections from NA-104.

Gull’s elder brothers and some other family members hah joined the PML-N in 2012. His elder brother Nawabzada Mazhar Ali and a nephew, Nawabzada Haider Mehdi, were elected MNA and MPA, respectively, on PML-N tickets in 2013 general elections.

He had joined the PPP in 1986 and was elevated to the slot of Gujrat district secretary general in 1987, after the death of his cousin, ex-MNA Nawabzada Zafar Mehdi, the then district president of the party. Gull was elected as an MPA by the margin of only four votes on a PPP ticket in 1988 polls and after that he was elected MNA on party ticket by defeating Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in 1993.

Though he had contested all the elections from 1990 to 2008 for the National Assembly as a PPP nominee but the party did not award him a ticket in 2013 because of a seat adjustment formula agreed upon with the Chaudhrys of PML-Q.

He also served as an advisor to the ex-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for a few months during the last PPP government, while the party had also offered him a Senate ticket. However, he declined to accept Senate seat, preferring the constituency-based politics.

He was one of the staunch opponents of the PPP’s decision of contesting 2011 poll in a coalition with the PML-Q.

It is being speculated that Mr Gull may join the PML-N since all his close family members had already switched over to the ruling party.

With Gull leaving the PPP, Qamar Zaman Kaira, the new president of the party in central Punjab, faces a big challenge in his home district, where former federal minister Ahmed Mukhtar was already out of touch with local politics since his defeat in the last election.

Besides, according to sources in the PPP, another politically influential family of Gujrat -- Pagganwalas -- are also not happy with the party policies in the district and “weighing options” for their future politics.

KAIRA: Punjab PPP President Qamar Zaman Kaira says exit of senior party leaders like Ghazanfar Gull will harm the party’s bid to make a comeback in Punjab. He regretted if these people had any reservation on party policies, they should have talked to the leadership instead of leaving the party.

Talking to Dawn, Kaira said difference of opinion within the party ranks had not been an issue since the parties like PML-N, PTI and others also had differences within the ranks.

Answering a question about stalwarts leaving the party at a critical time, Kaira said the party would engage some senior most leaders to resolve issues related to disgruntled leaders through an internal dialogue process.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2017