JHANG, Aug 28: The nomination of ex-district nazim Sahibzada Sultan Hameed for the highest Jhang office by Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi has led to differences in the ruling PML.
Jhang is not the first district where the ruling party is facing internal crisis over nominations for district nazim offices by the high-command.
The Makhdoom group of the PPP (Patriots), a coalition partner of the PML in the federal government, has also joined hands with the dissenting ruling party leaders.
The chief minister had nominated Sahibzada Sultan an official candidate for the Jhang district nazim’s office last week, leaving many an aspirant in the ruling coalition in a pensive mood. Local political analysts were equally surprised by the PML high-command’s decision even before the emergence of a clear picture of comparative strengths of various groups.
The fact that the Sahibzada enjoys little support among the MNAs and MPAs in the district makes the move all the more surprising. Four out of the six MNAs in Jhang are opposed to the Sahibzada, who has the support of his son-in-law Mehboob Sultan.
While all eight MPAs belonging to the treasury benches are in disagreement with his nomination.
According to the analysts, the nomination was unexpected and ill-timed because the other contenders stood relatively better chance than the Sahibzada who belongs to small Ahmadpur Sial tehsil having only 12 union councils. He is at a variance with the only MPA of the tehsil, Najaf Sial.
The people of Chiniot, the second largest tehsil of Jhang with 44 union councils, are in a state of shock as they were promised by the Punjab government that the next nazim would be elected from their tehsil. They had been demanding elevation of the tehsil to the district level for which they launched a vigorous movement earlier this year. The movement was, however, abandoned on the assurance of the provincial government that the next district nazim would be from Chiniot.
Sardarzada Muhammad Ali Shah and Sheikh Qaisar Ahmad, the two pioneers of the movement, were also serious contenders for the slot. The former is an ex-federal minister and the father of former Chiniot tehsil nazim Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah. His younger brother is MNA Syed Tahir Ali Shah.
Sardarzada enjoys great influence not only in Chiniot, but also in Jhang tehsil and some parts of Shorkot tehsil.
Sheikh Qaisar, an industrialist-turned-politician, is a former MNA from Chiniot. He represents the politically and financially sound Sheikh biradari of Chiniot, besides being a very close friend of Punjab Governor Khalid Maqbool.
The third aspirant to have missed the nomination is Syed Asad Hayat, the younger brother of federal minister and PPP (Patriots) leader Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat. Mr Hayat is a former MNA from a constituency more than half of which comprises areas falling in Chiniot.
Mr Hayat was a potential contender, but prolonged estrangement between Faisal Saleh Hayat and the Chaudhry brothers thwarted such an arrangement.