CHAKWAL: Facing internal political wrangling since the 2018 general election and dejected by the current situation, influential local politician Sardar Ghulam Abbas announced that he was parting ways with the PTI, which he joined shortly before the last elections.

“From today, the opposition’s slogan is my slogan,” he said, speaking to the press at his office in Balkassar on Thursday.

Mr Abbas said he has embraced the narrative of the Pakistan Democratic Movement and regrets leaving the PML-N in May 2018.

“I admit that I have done injustice to PML-N by leaving it. It was my blunder,” he said.

Mr Abbas’ departure has put his nephew, Sardar Aftab Akbar, in an uncomfortable position. Mr Akbar is a PTI MPA and the chairman of the Punjab Education Foundation.

Some other close aides to Mr Abbas also hold important positions in the local PTI chapter, such as Chaudhry Khursheed Baig, the senior vice president of PTI in Chakwal and Amir Butt, the party’s general secretary in Chakwal.

Provincial minister for higher education, Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfraz, is also close to him.

“Before taking this decision I informed Sardar Aftab Akbar and Raja Yasir. I expect them to join me on this new political journey,” Mr Abbas said, adding: “I am sure that all my other friends would accept my decision as I have taken it in their interest and in the interest of the people of Chakwal.”

Mr Abbas began his political career with the PPP in 1985. He was elected MPA twice and served as a provincial minister. He left the PPP in 1997 and joined the PML-Q, after which he was elected district nazim twice.

He then left the PML-Q and joined the PTI in 2011, but left the party before the 2013 general election. He then moved to the PML-N in 2016, where he stayed until May 2018, at which point he rejoined the PTI.

He was expected to be elected as an MNA on a PTI ticket in the 2018 electiosn, but his nomination papers were rejected because he was found to be concealing property.

Criticising the government’s performance, Mr Abbas said the PTI had done nothing for the public.

“When Imran Khan came into power, we thought he had vision. But now, after more than two years in power, it has been proven that he had everything except a vision,” he said.

Mr Humayun said Mr Abbas’ departure would not be setback for the party.

“It is his personal decision. My party is the PTI,” he said, adding that Mr Abbas “supported me in the election and I am thankful to him.”

PTI District President Pir Waqar Hussain said: “The PTI is like an ocean and the exodus of one drop does not affect the status of the ocean.”

Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2020

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