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Illustrious sons of Potohar

June 23, 2012


RAWALPINDI, June 22: Raja Pervaiz Ashraf became the latest illustrious son of the Potohar region to rise to a high office when he took oath as prime minister of Pakistan on Friday.

In fact, he not only shares the region with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani but also the same tehsil – Gujar Khan.

What the rise entails for him personally and his Pakistan People’s Party, however, is already a matter of speculation at home and abroad.

Incidentally, the leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, with whom Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz will be crossing swords in the National Assembly debates, is also a Potohari, and a furious one.

Chaudhry Nisar reportedly described his election to the office as “a severe blow to the democratic process”.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf faces even a bigger challenge in measuring up to two Potohar sons who earned name, fame and power across the border in India – incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former prime minister I. K. Gujral.

Manmohan Singh could be an embarrassment to inexperienced Raja Pervaiz Ashraf even before the highly experienced Singh undertakes his intended visit to Pakistan.

A recent report said people of Singh’s native Gah village in Chakwal district of Potohar suffer less from electricity blackouts than the rest of Pakistan – thanks to Manmohan Singh.

According to the report, his childhood friends in Gah sent him congratulatory messages when he assumed the office of Prime Minister of India in 2004. In response, Singh asked what he could do for his native place – and in following years Indian teams installed solar panels brightening up the village.

The Potohar region has become a right choice of political parties and ruling elites for its loyalty. PML-N and PPP found their parliamentary leaders in the current National Assembly and Senate from the same district.

Nisar Ali Khan, who is close to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, and in the same case, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is considered loyal to PPP leadership whether it was Benazir Bhutto or Asif Ali Zardari.

PPP leaders also chose Farzana Raja from Gujar Khan to run Benazir Income Support Programme.

The Pindiites expect that these national key post holders will do something good for the region.

“I hope the coming government would address our problems and there would be no shortage of electricity, gas, water and infrastructure,” said a resident of the city, Saleem Ahmed.

Nasir Mir, PPP former Naib Nazim, said Pervaiz Ashraf came from middle class and started his politics from lower level and he knew the mood of people and their necessity. He expressed the hope that the new prime minister would work better and would remain loyal to the party leadership.

On the other hand, some old PPP workers were of the view that when Mr Raja was minister he never visited the party workers and now after becoming the prime minister he would not visit the city.

PML-N worker Majid Khan said like opposition leader, who had no time for the party workers and to resolve the problems of the region, the PPP’s new prime minister would ignore his constituency.

Some people, however, did not see any good in future. “Please don’t expect too much from the new prime minister because he will cease to hold the office when Supreme Court will decide cases of rental power projects and he would also not write letter to Swiss courts for reopening of the money laundering case against his party leader,” said an old resident of the city, Mohammad Naseer.