ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is in search of a secretary general who can take the party to the upcoming general election.
The all important office of the secretary general has been lying vacant for two years as the party leadership has been unable to find a suitable person for the post from less populous provinces.
A number of senior PML-N leaders and office-bearers, when contacted, confirmed that the delay was because of the leadership’s decision to select the new secretary general from the provinces, other than Punjab.
At present all main offices of the party are with the people belonging to Punjab and, according to sources, it is highly unlikely that the general secretary will also be taken from the same province.
The office has been vacant for two years as party leadership has been unable to find a suitable person from less populous provinces
The sources told Dawn that in some of the recent meetings held in Lahore, the party leaders stressed the need for appointing a full-fledged secretary general because the delay had started affecting the party’s organisational matters.
Presently, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has been functioning as acting secretary general of the party. And during private conversations, he has admitted that he has not been able to give sufficient time to the office because of his official engagements as minister. Mr Iqbal is also Minister for Planning and Development and looking after the affairs of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The sources said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif previously wanted to appoint former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan as secretary general during the intra-party elections held in 2016, but the latter showed some reluctance. He is currently serving as adviser to the prime minister on aviation.
After Sardar Mahtab’s refusal, the sources said, Amir Muqam from KP and a senior party leader from Balochistan Syedaal Khan Nasar were among those whose names were under consideration by the leadership for the post.
Mr Nasar, who remained a party loyalist and faced hardship during the military rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf, met Shahbaz Sharif after his election as acting party president in Lahore on Tuesday.
Though Mr Muqam has been playing a key role in keeping the party active and giving a tough time to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in KP, there is a group within the party which still considers him an outsider because he had served as a minister during the military rule.
There is a gossip within the party that Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who had previously served as the party’s secretary general in the 1990s and has recently rejoined the party, may get the slot again. And his one-to-one meeting with Nawaz Sharif in Raiwind on Monday gave strength to the rumours.
The sources said there was a possibility that the PML-N might also hold election for the office of general secretary when its general council would meet next week to elect Shahbaz Sharif as the party president.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2018