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LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lost its fourth stalwart from Gujranwala division of Punjab when Imtiaz Safdar Warraich defected to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) after meeting Imran Khan on Friday.

Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan, Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Nawabzada Ghazanfar Gul have already bid adieu to the PPP during the last three weeks.

Ironically, all the four have served as ministers in PPP governments.

Safdar Warraich is the fourth PPP leader from Gujranwala to part ways with it

Groupings within the party and local political issues are said to be the reasons behind the desertions.

Mr Warraich, who served as minister of state for communication in the PPP government during 2008-13, was dejected when he was removed from the post of the president of the party’s central Punjab chapter for “failing to deliver”.

Since then there were reports that he is quitting the PPP to join the PTI.

His grievance deepened when Qamar Zaman Kaira from the rival party group was nominated as the central Punjab chapter chief.

Dr Awan also had complaints against Mr Kaira when the PPP was in power as she had accused him of interfering in her ministry (of information and broadcasting). She, however, alleges that the party leadership has sacrificed “political interests of Punjab to save political interests of Sindh”, creating panic among PPP leaders in Punjab.

The PPP has also failed to play the role of “real opposition” in accordance with the wishes of the masses “making the party irrelevant” in the province, she says.

Mr Gondal is said to be annoyed with the PPP for not lending him support in the Rs40 billion EOBI corruption case against his brother Zafar Gondal.

Mr Gul was not happy at the PPP’s reconciliation with the PML-Q as the latter’s leaders Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi are arch-rivals of the Nawabzadas in Gujrat district politics.

Another former minister of state, Samsam Bokhari, and a former Punjab minister, Ashraf Sohna, (both from Okara) quit the PPP in July 2015 and another former provincial minister, Raja Riaz (from Faisalabad), said goodbye to the party in May 2016.

Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar and Malik Niaz Jhakar from Layyah, Aamir Dogar from Multan, Sardar Saif Khan Khosa from Dera Ghazi Khan and Qayyum Jatoi from Muzaffargarh have also left the PPP earlier.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017