Erosion in the rank and file of the PPP in Punjab continued Friday as party stalwart Imtiaz Safdar Warraich bid adieu to Bhutto's party and joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
PTI Chairman Imran Khan welcomed Warraich into the party at a press conference at Bani Gala in Islamabad.
Warraich's switch to the PTI is the fourth major blow to the PPP’s Gujranwala division, home of the party’s central Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Within the last one month, party stalwarts Nazar Muhammad Gondal from Mandi Bahauddin, Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali Gul from Gujrat and Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan from Sialkot have abandoned the PPP ship. While Gul is yet to join another political party, Gondal and Dr Awan have thrown in their lot with the PTI.
PPP founding member Ghulam Mustafa Khar also joined the PTI in April this year.
Who is Imtiaz Safdar Warraich?
Born and brought up in northeastern Punjab’s Gujranwala district, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich was among the PPP’s senior members and is regarded as a veteran politician and a party stalwart.
A lawyer by profession, Warraich served as the Gujranwala District Bar Association's general secretary over 1982-1983 and was a member of the local district council from 1983-1991. He also served as the director of the Punjab Provincial Cooperative Bank Limited and was a federal minister in former premier Benazir Bhutto’s second government.
He was twice elected as an MNA, in 2002 and 2008, from NA-98, his home constituency in Gujranwala; and as MPA for the Punjab Assembly in 1993, also from a seat in the same region. After his win in 2008, Warraich served as state minister for communication.
He was also PPP’s president of Gujranwala division and appointed to the influential position of president of the party’s central Punjab chapter in 2010. His appointment as the party’s head in central Punjab was a source of disappointment for a group of PPP workers, who said Warraich could not deliver in the province, a traditional stronghold of PML-N.
Despite the trouble surrounding his term as the party’s president for central Punjab and his subsequent removal from the assignment, Warraich managed to retain his PPP ticket for the 2013 general election, once again running from NA-98 (Gujranwala-IV), but lost to PML-N's Mian Tariq Mehmood.