Jalil Sharqpuri’s support drives a wedge in ruling Muslim League
By Mubasher Bukhari & Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League’s support for Jalil Sharqpuri has created differences within the party in Sheikhupura district as local party leaders continue to wrangle on Sharqpuri’s support despite Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s best efforts to resolve the issue.
PML sources told Daily Times that Elahi and his aides held a series of meetings to hammer out the differences among groups led by Tawakkulullah Virk and Khurram Munnawar Manj.
They said that a meeting was held on August 29 at the CM Secretariat in which Sharqpuri complained to Elahi that major clans and political groups associated with the PML were not supporting him. Interestingly, before the meeting a member of the National Assembly (MNA), belonging to the Virk group, lodged his complaint that a criminal case was registered against his family member.
“The chief minister called this MNA to the meeting and asked him to support Sharqpuri but the MNA refused. He said that Sharqpuri did not have the political strength to take the district nazim’s office,” they said.
Sheikhpura district consists of 101 union councils (UCs), including Ferozewala, Sharaqpur and Mureedke tehsils, and according to unofficial results, the PML was able to attain only 35 seats of UC nazims, while the rest were taken by the opposition groups, they said.
They said that there were three major clans in Sheikhupura district and they all had reservations over Elahi’s decision to nominate Sharqpuri, who recently joined PML from the PML-N, for the office of the district nazim. They said the clans complained that Elahi ignored their services when nominating a district nazim. They said the clans would support anybody but Sharqpuri.
Presently in the absence of a PML candidate, the allied group is supporting former MNA and federal minister Rana Tanveer for Sheikhupura district nazim.
Before Nankana Sahib was declared a district, Sheikhpura district had seven National Assembly seats that were taken by Mian Jalil Sharqpuri, Saeed Virk, Bilal Virk, Brig (r) Zulfiqar Dillahon, Khurram Munnawar Manj, Railways Federal Minister Mian Shamim Haider and Rai Mansab Ali Khan.
In the 2002 general polls, Sharqpuri won the National Assembly seat with the PML-N’s support and the PML took the rest of the six National Assembly seats.
Sources said that a split, within the PML in district Sheikhpura already existed over the registration of a rape case against Moazam Virk, son of Tawakalullah Virk. They said that Tawakalullah Virk, who joined the PML in 2001 after ending his decades-long political association with the Pakistan People’s Party, alleged that Intelligence Bureau Director General Brig (r) Ijaz Shah used to involve his son and other family members in criminal cases.
Ijaz Shah belongs to Nankana Sahib and his uncle Mumtaz Shah is the leading candidate for the district nazim’s office. A senior PML official told Daily Times that a final official meeting would be called in which all these issues would be resolved.