PML divided over district nazims’ selection
* Leaders accuse Punjab CM of making decisions unilaterally
By Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League (PML) has been unable so far to placate influential members angry at the selection of the party’s “unofficial” candidates for district nazims.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the PML president, has held at least four meetings with party leaders influential in Attock, Hafizabad, Rahim Yar Khan and Mandi Bahauddin but been unable to soothe their ire over the selection of district nazim candidates.
Party sources told Daily Times that most of them were particularly annoyed with Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s “pick and choose policy”, saying the chief minister had not consulted them when selecting candidates. “They feel the party leadership should have developed a consensus before finalising the candidates,” the sources said.
One dissatisfied party leader is Jehangir Khan Tareen, the minister for industries, who missed two meetings with Chaudhry Shujaat concerning the impasse over the PML candidate for nazim in Rahim Yar Khan district.
The party president chaired two meetings with parliamentarians and party leaders from Rahim Yar Khan on Tuesday, but Tareen wasn’t present for either of them. Sources said the minister was in Karachi when he was told to take an Islamabad-bound flight at 7:00pm for the meeting, but he could not make it.
The minister supports Makhdoom Anwar Mehmood, the previous Rahim Yar Khan nazim, for the party’s candidature, but the chief minister has gone against this. There have been reports that President General Pervez Musharraf could personally intervene to resolve the differences among the wrangling PML leaders. The president has already tasked Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the PML secretary general, to maintain unity among PML leaders.
On Wednesday, Chaudhry Shujaat met with party leaders from Attock, Mandi Bahauddin and Hafizabad for over two hours at the PML Secretariat to resolve similar disputes in those districts.
The meeting was also attended by Mushahid Hussain, Malik Amin Aslam, the minister of state for the environment, MNAs Ijaz Chaudhry, Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwar and Liaqat Bhatti, and Tahir Sadiq, the former Attock district nazim.
Daily Times learnt that the MNAs and the minister of state complained to the party president that they had not been consulted by the PML provincial leadership before the party announced its ‘unofficial’ support for nazim candidates.
They said the Punjab chief minister was trying to run the show exclusively, without taking party leaders into confidence. They feared that this would lead the party to “disintegration” at the district and provincial levels.
Malik Amin Aslam and Malik Allah Yar Khan, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, are strong opponents of Tahir Sadiq. Both have accused him of corruption and demanded the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigate him.
However, Sadiq is still considered the most likely nazim candidate for Attock. He is the brother-in-law of Chaudhry Shujaat and is also in the good books of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. In 2004, Sadiq’s daughter vacated her NA seat for Aziz.
Sources said after hearing the complaints against the Punjab chief minister, Shujaat telephoned Elahi and asked him to meet with the angry party leaders in the next couple of days.
The PML president told the MNAs that he would not support favouritism and the party’s backing for district nazim candidates would be decided purely on merit. He said candidates who wanted the support of the ruling party must show they have majority support in their districts. He advised the party leaders to resolve their disputes through negotiations and avoid making controversial press statements.