LARKANA, April 3: It appears that dissidents and estranged supporters of the PPP who felt they were sidelined or ignored by the party during its five-year rule are not ready to miss any opportunity to settle a score with former rulers.

The party’s provincial leadership failed in its last-ditch attempt on Wednesday to persuade Moazzam Ali Abbasi, son of former PPP MPA Haji Munawar Ali Abbasi, to pull out of contest for NA-204 (Larkana-I) and PS-38 (Mirokhan).

In a lesser setback to the PPP, Aamir Bhutto who claims to be chieftain of the Bhutto tribe, announced that he and his tribe fellows had decided to support PPP-SB chairperson Ghinwa Bhutto for NA-207 (Larkana-IV) who is in the run against Faryal Talupr, sister of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Sources close to the Abbasis told Dawn that Syed Qaim Ali Shah, president of the party’s Sindh chapter, former speaker of the Sindh Assembly Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Nawab Sardar Khan Chandio, chieftain of the Chandio tribe, and Ghulam Mujtaba Isran, president of the PPP Qambar-Shahdadkot chapter, held detailed talks with Haji Munawar at his residence in Waleed.

The leaders’ one-point agenda was to persuade him to ask his son to withdraw from the race as an independent candidate and at one stage Moazzam himself was called in to join the talks, said the sources.

The sources said that Haji Munawar complained the party had ignored him during the five-year rule. Mr Moazzam told negotiators he enjoyed people’s support and his contesting the election did not mean he was distancing himself from the party, said the sources.

At one stage during the prolonged talks Haji Munawar made an offer that he would voluntarily return the party ticket for PS-38 if the party so decided, said the sources.

But his son said he would still contest the seat even if his father pulled out. However, Haji Munawar agreed to participate in the Bhutto anniversary being held inside the camp office of the President House in Naudero and take up the issue with President Zardari and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, said the sources.

The PPP leadership has not so far made up its mind about the final candidate for NA-204 and PS-38. But, according to reliable sources, former district nazim of Larkana Khursheed Junejo can get the ticket for PS-38 in case Haji Munawar is dropped.

Talking to journalists after meeting the Abbasis, Syed Qaim Ali Shah praised the Abbasi family’s role in the party and called Haji Munawar an important comrade.

He said the talks were ‘positive’ and there was no dispute over tickets, which would be finalised after scrutiny of candidates by the election commission was over. Since there was risk of disqualification, the party could drop any candidate and announce tickets later, he said.

Mr Aamir who claims to be chieftain of the Bhutto tribe announced on Wednesday that he and his tribe fellows would support PPP-SB candidates in the upcoming elections.

Talking to journalists at his residence after a prolonged meeting with elders of the Bhutto tribe who had come from all over the province, Mr Aamir said that Bhuttos had decided to support Ms Ghinwa for NA-207 (Larkana-IV) for which Ms Faryal Talpur had also filed papers.

Mr Aamir developed differences with the PPP leadership soon after the party came to power and complained the former rulers had sidelined him. Ms Ghinwa had met him a couple of days before and told journalists afterwards people would hear ‘good news’ soon.

He said the PPP-SB was the real Bhutto party. Former rulers put Bhuttos on the backburner after obtaining votes in their name. To them, Ayaz Soomro was more important than Bhuttos, he complained.

Answering a question, Mr Aamir said that Mumtaz Ali Bhutto was his uncle and he respected him. If he was asked by his people to meet him, he surely would, he said.

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