PESHAWAR: Serious differences have surfaced in the ranks of Pakistan Peoples Party, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, putting the party in a very awkward position.
Background interviews revealed that in case the top leadership failed to pay proper attention to redressal of the grievances of disgruntled leaders, the party will be unable to compete with rival political parties in the next elections.
“These differences are no more secret. The party’s top leadership has also sensed the situation and that is why PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari recently visited Mardan and held a meeting with some disgruntled leaders, but the issues remain unresolved,” insiders said.
Now, the party chairman has assured the disgruntled workers to invite them individually for meetings to discuss and resolve the internal issues amicably.
According to the insiders, the differences existing for past few years took a serious turn with recent appointments/selection of new office-bearers, mainly of the new faces on key seats at different levels.
Leaders pin high hopes on Bilawal to resolve issues
It was learnt that following requests of the disgruntled workers, central executive committee member Rahimdad Khan had invited Asif Ali Zardari to his residence in Hatyan village of Shergarh, Mardan, but his visit was cancelled at the eleventh hour due to his (Zardari’s) ailment.
However, Bilawal came and held a separate meeting with the representatives of annoyed people and also addressed the party workers.
The sources said party’s provincial president Humayun Khan was not allowed to sit in the meeting with disgruntled workers.
A number of workers also shouted slogans against the provincial president on the occasion.
The complaints raised by annoyed people were mainly about the appointment of office-bearers who had recently joined PPP and managed to secure key party seats, including provincial general secretary, provincial secretary information, etc.
They said many of the leaders who served the party sincerely during hard times had been neglected or their offices were changed against their will.
Some of the leading figures who had held a meeting with Bilawal included former federal ministers Lal Mohammad Khan and Najamuddin Khan, former provincial ministers Ziaullah Afridi and Mehmood Zeb Khan, former PPP Peshawar district general secretary Misbahuddin Khan and former MPA Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha.
Sharing details of the meeting, some of the participants told this correspondent that since the appointment of Humayun Khan as provincial president the party was on decline in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
They also mentioned names of the former lawmakers and other leaders who had contested elections on the PPP ticket, but parted ways with it and joined rival parties due to deepening internal differences.
They include Yaseen Khalil PK-73 Peshawar, Ghazanfar Ali PK-70, Kifayatullah Orakzai PK-75, Ashfaq Khalil PK-72, Amanullah PK-71 and Irfanullah Shah NA-31.
Other senior people belonging to Nowshera, including Yahya Shah, Rahim Shah, Tariq Khattak, Qurban Ali, Mian Muzaffar Shah and Jauhar Ali advocate from Buner district, also said goodbye to PPP.
The disgruntled leaders said they had also apprised Bilawal of the disorganised units of sister organisations, including youth, student and women wings, where many senior workers had opted to sit silent due to the differences. They said a number of key seats at various levels, including southern districts and Mardan, were also vacant mainly due to internal strife.
Many other senior people like Syed Zahir Ali Shah, Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, Anwar Saifullah Khan, Arbab Alamgir and Asma Alamgir also seem to have their own reservations.
Rahimdad Khan, a member of PPP central executive committee, said the workers held the party leadership in high esteem and accepted all its decisions, but they also had the right to present suggestions.
“We don’t have personal grudges with anyone. I have spent my entire life for strengthening PPP in the province and will remain associated with it till end,” he said and added that being a CEC member he had given suggestions to the top leadership with the hope to be considered.
Rahimdad said he had already conveyed reservations of the annoyed people to the top leadership and Asif Ali Zardari was due to arrive at his residence, but could not come due to his illness.
He said the visit of Bilawal was an honour for him where the annoyed workers apprised him of their complaints.
“Mr Bilawal has assured to call the disgruntled leaders for meetings to seek a permanent solution to the issues,” he said.
When contacted, Humayun Khan rejected the allegations, saying the selection of office-bearers was the prerogative of party chairman.
“With the approval of provincial cabinet three names for each office are forwarded to the chairman for final selection,” he explained.
He said the people who had been replaced had some reasons, including lack of interest on their part or age factor.
“During my tenure several prominent people, including Muzaffar Said, Amjad Afridi, his father Senator Shamim Afridi and family of former PHC chief justice Ibne Ali joined PPP,” he said.
“The party needs teamwork as the provincial president alone cannot run the affairs,” he added.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2021