3 PPP lawmakers quit party

Published March 11, 2004

LAHORE, March 10: Three members of the Punjab Assembly belonging to the People's Party Parliamentarians resigned from the party on Wednesday, citing serious differences with the top leadership of the party.

Bahawalpur District Nazim Tariq Bashir Cheema and half a dozen tehsil Nazims of the party also resigned. Accompanied by Mr Zafar Iqbal Warraich, who had resigned as member of the National Assembly on Tuesday on identical grounds, MPAs and the Nazims announced at a press conference here that neither any reward nor any pressure from any quarters was behind their decision.

"If we had to bow before pressure we would have done so long ago, during election to Senate and confidence vote for Gen Pervez Musharraf when the pressure was immense and incentives were ample," Mr Cheema said.

"Seeing no room for themselves in the party they decided to take recourse to their electorate instead of becoming turncoats," he said. Having rendered sacrifices for the party over the past three decades, he said he was parting ways with the party with a heavy heart because its affairs were not being run in accordance with the ideology of its founding chairman late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

"Decisions are being imposed by kitchen cabinets at the central and provincial levels, ignoring the plight of workers." Mr Cheema said the three MPAs - Dr Mohammad Afzal (PP-276), Chaudhry Shoaib Karim (PP-275) and Sardar Khalid Mehmood (PP-269) - and the tehsil Nazims would tender their resignations in phases so that the group could concentrate its energy on winning the seats in by-elections.

In the first phase, they would field their candidates for the two NA seats - one vacated by Mr Warraich and the other which fell vacant due to the death of federal minister Abdul Sattar Laleka. Asked if the group would join any party or form a new one, he said a decision would be taken after consultations with their constituents.

Had Benazir Bhutto attached any importance to them (the disgruntled group), she would have intervened during the last one and a half years when they complained to her many times about the behaviour of some leaders, he said in response to a question whether the group would review its decision on party chairperson's appeal.

He parried a question regarding his meeting with a military officer in the city late Tuesday evening. Elected to the National Assembly from Bahawalpur, Mr Warraich had submitted his resignation during the NA session on Tuesday to Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain who accepted it.

The NA secretariat issued a notification forwarding the resignation to the Election Commission for holding fresh elections to fill the seat within 60 days.

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