LAHORE, Oct 13: Another Musharraf loyalist, former MPA Nighat Salim, joined the PML-N on Saturday, a day after it observed Oct 12 as a ‘black day’ against the former military chief’s coup to oust its chief Nawaz Sharif’s government.
As the number of Musharraf loyalists joining the Sharifs’ party is swelling day by day, PML-N’s activists who struggled during the Musharraf rule are worried about their political future because many of them would be deprived of party tickets in the next general elections.
The list of Musharraf’s loyalists who are now with the Sharifs are KPK MNA Ameer Muqam (whom Musharraf once termed his brother), Musharraf’s cabinet members Zahid Hamid, Tariq Azeem, Liaquat Jatoi, Sumera Malik, Shahid Akram Bhindar and Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar.
The PML-N also wasted no time in welcoming Musharraf’s most vocal loyalists Marvi Memon and Kashmala Tariq.
Apart from them, some 40 or so PML-Q MPAs of Punjab Assembly led by Dr Tahir Ali Javed are supporting Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. They all voted for Musharraf to elect him president for second tenure in 2007.
This situation may create problems for the Sharifs. If they award party tickets to former Musharraf and PML-Q loyalists, they will have to satisfy those who remained with the party through thick and thin and are expecting party tickets.
The Punjab government is facilitating the PML-Q forward bloc members by giving them development funds. Somehow the bureaucracy also ‘obliges’ them.
Similarly, Akhter Rasool, a former hockey team captain who had ditched the PML-N soon after the Oct 12 coup, has also joined the PML-N. He has filed papers for PP-144 (Lahore) by-poll. Explaining his party’s position, PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid says: “There are three types of people we have classified to make a criteria to welcome them in the party. First, there are those who damaged our party by carving out another one (PML-Q) like Shiekh Rashid. Second, those of our party men having no role in damaging the party but they contested the election on the Q platform like Liaquat Jatoi. Third, who joined the Q after entering the politics like Marvi Memon.”
Rashid said the PML-N was ready to welcome the people of second and third category with an undertaking that they would follow the manifesto of the PML-N and that he/she would not support martial-law or military dictator in future.
To a question, Mr Rashid said there had been no resentment among the PML-N workers regarding the entry of PML-Q forward bloc members in the party. “They (forward bloc members) had supported the PML-N when the Governor’s rule was imposed and we promised them that the party tickets will be awarded to them and on this the party workers have no issue.”
The PML-N senator further said the party would decide on award of ticket on PP-144 after receiving input from its workers.
Nighat Salim who hails from Faisalabad, told reporters that Musharraf had done some ‘good’ jobs but she had apologized for supporting him. “I have decided to quit the Q after it made an alliance with the PPP,” she added.