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LARKANA, March 29: The Muttahida Quami Movement leader and former Sindh minister, Rauf Siddiqui, entered the race for NA-213 (Nawabshah-I) besides Azra Fazal Pechuho, sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, on Friday as defections continued to plague the PPP, with diehard party leaders and supporters deserting the party.

Veteran PPP leader and a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto, Dr Safdar Abbasi, is set to file nomination papers for NA-205 (Dokri-Warah) and PS-36 (Larkana-II) and PS-41 (Dokri-Nasirabad) on Saturday as an independent candidate. His protégé Moazzam Ali Abbasi, son of former PPP MPA Haji Munwar Ali Abbasi, filed nomination papers for NA-204 (Larkana-I) as independent candidate in Larkana.

Mr Abbasi ignored repeated calls by MNA Faryal Talpur and former Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and went ahead to file papers.

Dr Safdar and Mr Abbasi arrived at the court at the head of a procession at 2pm after covering a distance of four kilometres.

Talking to journalists Dr Safdar said that they were opposing the way the party’s was being run. PPP leadership was still not ready to let go his brother Haji Munwar Ali Abbasi which exposed its weakness, he said.

Mr Moazzam said that in the past the prospective candidates were awarded tickets after interviews but now decisions were made in drawing rooms.

In Larkana, PML-N’s Amir Bakhsh Bhutto, son of former Sindh chief minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, and Rizwan Kehar and Nazeer Shaikh of the PML-F filed papers for PS-36 (Larkana-II), while Babu Sarfraz Jatoi of the PML-N filed papers for NA-204.

In Qambar-Shahdadkot district, PPP’s Mir Nadir Ali Magsi and Haji Munwar Ali Abbasi, JUI-F leader Dr Khalid Mehmood Soomro, Mir Aamir Magsi, Ms Naheed Khuhawar (PML-F) and Ms Rafia Kalhoro were among the 32 candidates who filed papers for NA-206, NA-207, PS-40 (Shahdadkot), PS-38 (Mirokhan) and PS-42 (Warah).

In Nawabshah, MQM leader and former provincial minister Rauf Siddiqui filed papers for NA-213 (Nawabshah-I) for which former MNA Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, sister of President Asif Zardari, had filed papers on Thursday. She had twice won the seat in the 2002 and 2008 elections.

Mr Siddiqui who arrived at the returning officer’s office accompanied by a large number of party workers told journalists that the MQM was not contesting elections against any individual or party but was just participating in a democratic process.

He said that he was born and brought up in Nawabshah, his mother was buried here and it was his hometown. When MQM chief Altaf Hussain asked him to file papers in Nawabshah, he was overjoyed, he added.

After coming to power, the MQM would make the city beautiful and turn it into a centre of excellence and education, he said.

In Badin, chieftain of the Chang tribe, a large and influential community, Sardar Aslam Khan Chang and his brother Zulfikar Chang, sons of the late Sardar Yousuf Khan Chang, a PPP stalwart, announced joining the PML-F after meeting PML-F leader Ali Akbar Nizamani in Matli.

They told journalists after getting nomination papers for NA-225 (Badin-Golarchi) and PS-59 (Golarchi), that they had put their faith in Pir Sahib Pagara who could bring about real change in the country.

PPP leadership has awarded ticket for NA-224 (Matli-Talhar-Tando Bago) to Kamal Khan Chang, cousin of the tribal chief.