‘Qureshi to revive PPP popularity in south Punjab’
By Noshad Ali
LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairwoman Benazir Bhutto has replaced Qasim Zia with Shah Mehmood Qureshi as the Punjab PPP president and Rana Aftab Ahmed with Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas as general secretary in Punjab. Daily Times spoke to the new Punjab PPP president about his new responsibilities, and to his party colleagues and political opponents and allies about the change.
Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Hussain Qureshi, president of PPP Punjab, says Qasim had done his job very well, especially during difficult times. He produced very good results for the party in tough political conditions and is still playing his role as opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly. The replacement was basically due for the last many months on account of the party’s decision to separate the Punjab Assembly leadership and the party’s provincial leadership, which had already been done in other provinces. In Punjab, the chairperson made this decision after long consultations. The party leader has proposed me for a tough job during election year (2007). I have two prime objectives in front of me. One is to arrange a historic reception for Benazir Bhutto while the other is to mobilise the party’s reluctant, angry and sleeping workers for the upcoming elections with the help of experienced party workers and leaders and with fresh ideas. There is no internal politics or groups within the PPP except the Benazir Bhutto group and I will strictly enforce discipline in the party. Benazir has created a balance by choosing the party’s Punjab president from the south and general secretary from the north, which were the most neglected areas. I have great admiration for Ghulam Mustafa Khar besides other senior leaders like Jahangir Badar, Yousaf Raza Gillani, Khalid Ahmed Khan Kharal, Ahmed Mukhtar, etc, and by joining hands with them I will revive the PPP in Punjab, which always plays a key role in the country’s politics.
Qasim Zia, opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, says the current change was a long due decision that has been made by the party’s chairperson in the best interest of the party. Designations are always the party’s to give and this change will not create any hurdle in the working of political workers.
Everyone is committed to the party, not to designations. Shah Mehmood is an experienced leader of the party and will obviously generate better results by making the party more active. All party workers are determined to work together and through consultations with each other.
Rana Aftab, PPPP deputy parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly, says Qasim Zia is an excellent man with a cool and positive attitude, even in harsh circumstances. He has always played an important role, especially in keeping workers united. As an excellent team member and leader he always extended his cooperation to everyone. Benazir has given the responsibilities of Punjab to a new team under the leadership of an experienced and educated person, who will hopefully bring good results for the party.
Zaheeruddin, general secretary of PML Punjab, says Qasim Zia is a noble politician and he is a good colleague, but basically the fault lies with the Pakistan People Party’s leadership, which always prefers feudal lords to handle the party command because its chairperson herself is a feudal lord. There are cracks in the party ranks and it lacks coordination, due to which it faces severe internal political problems and cannot bring a change in politics. The PPP as a political party is not capable of working for any public cause.
Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, president of PML-N Punjab, says I am not in a position to comment on any other party’s decision regarding any change. However, as far as Shah Mehmood Qureshi is concerned, I should say that he is an experienced politician. Shah Mehmood has been in the assemblies and is aware of provincial and country level issues, so his party has given him responsibilities with a view that he can better command it in tough circumstances, especially in the changing political scenario.