GUJRAT, Sept 22: A group from the Nawabzada family, including a former MNA and an ex-MPA, has announced joining the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, citing their reservations over the Pakistan People’s Party’s alliance with their arch rivals the Chaudhrys of Gujrat who head the PML-Q.
Former MNA Nawabzada Mazhar Ali Khan, ex-MPA and former Gujrat district council chairman Nawabzada Muzaffar Ali Khan, former opposition leader in the district council Nawabzada Tahirul Mulk and others made the announcement on Saturday at a meeting with PML-N leadership in Lahore.
Welcoming the prominent political and social personalities of Gujrat into PML-N folds, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said their joining had strengthened the PML-N. He said with the latest addition, the party would gain in Gujrat.
The newcomers said Nawaz Sharif was the only leader who could steer the country out of crisis and they had full trust in the PML-N leadership.
Both Mazhar Ali and Muzaffar Ali are elder brothers of People’s Party stalwart Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali Gull who has been a senior member of the PPP’s central executive committee and also remained an adviser to the prime minister.
Mr Gull had been a member of the Punjab as well as national assemblies back in 1988 and 1993, respectively.
Despite the defections in his family, Mr Gull vowed to remain a life-long PPP loyalist.
Talking to this scribe about the defections, Mr Gull said sarcastically that though Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif had proved their ‘friendship’ with him by creating a split into Nawabzada family, the move could prove beneficial for their combined rivals (the Chaudhrys).
He vowed to continue to oppose the Chaudhrys while remaining in the PPP and to contest the next general elections against them “whether the party gives me a ticket or not”.
Mr Gull’s elder brothers have been in contact with the PML-N leadership for the last one year and finally the party managed to get a breakthrough.
However, some keen observers of local politics are of the view that the development would neither prove beneficial for the Nawabzadas nor the PML-N as according to them Mr Gull was the actual ‘crowd puller’ among the Nawabzadas as he had been in the active politics since 1988 and contested all the general elections since then.
They say only Mr Gull could prove an attraction for the pro-PPP and anti-Chaudhrys voters in the coming polls in NA-140 where he had been defeated by incumbent federal minister Chaudharys Wajahat Hussain in the last two general elections.
Nawabzada Tahirul Mulk, a nephew of Mr Gull, said Nawabzada group had never accepted the PPP’s coalition with the Q League and they had been sharing their reservations with the party high-command but it did not pay heed to them. Now, when the elections are approaching, they had no option but to join the PML-N, he added.
He said the family had also been trying to persuade Mr Gull to join them in their move but in vain.
In 1985 general elections, the Nawabzada family had also been divided into two factions. The group that has now joined the PML-N had decided to contest the non-party elections as independent candidates in violation of the PPP’s boycott of the electoral exercise. The both brothers -- Mazhar Ali and Muzaffar Ali – were elected as MNA and MPA, receptively. Mr Gull and his cousin and former MNA late Nawabzada Zafar Mehdi, who was then PPP Gujrat district president, had honored the PPP’s decision of boycott and stayed away from the election.
Following the PML-Q’s joining the coalition government, the PPP has been suffering big blows in the district where a good number of its followers have either joined the PML-N or the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf.
More political realignments are expected in the district in view of the plan of PPP and PML-Q to jointly contest the next general elections.
Sources said the PML-N has been working on a strategy to put a strong resistance to the Chaudhrys in the district by wooing strong political families such as the Nawabzadas, the Servis group and the Pagganwalas, who were staunch rivals of the Chaudhrys in Gujrat for long.
Sources said the PML N had already made a special committee comprising MNAs Khawaja Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Khuram Dastgir Khan and headed by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif for the purpose.
Sources added that the committee has been trying to woo Chaudhry Ahmed Saeed of the Service Group, the elder brother of Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, who might not contest the next elections in case of possible electoral alliance between the PPP and the PML-Q as Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi might be the PPP’s choice in the NA-105 constituency.
The PML-N committee had also contacted Mian Fakhar Mushtaq Pagganwala, whose wife Sameena Pagganwala is a federal parliamentary secretary and who was deprived of the party office last year. The body has reportedly offered some political incentives to the Pagganwalas in return in for their joining the PML-N.
The sources said the negotiations of the PML N committee with the disgruntled PPP groups were on and the N League had been expecting more breakthroughs in Gujrat ahead of the next elections.