Rahim Yar Khan elections Makhdoom Vs Chaudhrys and Legharis
By Mohammed Rizwan
LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League’s hopes of comfortably retaining the slot of Rahim Yar Khan district nazim has received a major blow with powerful Leaguer Makhdoom Ahmed Mehmood leaving the party in a huff amidst corruption allegations traded between him and a group of politicians from the district. Polling in Rahim Yar Khan, and 17 other Punjab districts, starts on Thursday morning.
Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi replaced Mehmood with his long-time rival Rafiq Haider Leghari as the PML-backed candidate for the district nazim slot after eight parliamentarians, backed by influential businessman Chaudhry Munir Hidayatullah, accused Mehmood, the outgoing district nazim, of corruption.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, State Minister for Local Bodies Chaudhry Zafar Warraich, former state minister for culture Rais Munir Ahmad, Parliamentary Defence Secretary Major (r) Tanvir Shah, MNA Makhdoom Ahmad Alam Anwar, Punjab Baitul Maal Minister Ijaz Shafi, MPA Chaudhry Mehmood and MPA Rais Iqbal, in a joint letter dated July 18, had written to the president and prime minister saying the devolution plan in Rahim Yar Khan had been “compromised by the non-transparent process adopted by the outgoing district nazim”.
Mehmood retorted that the lobby against him had secured the party’s nomination through a land deal in favour of the chief minister’s son. “Everyone is talking about the land gifted by Chaudhry Munir to the chief minister’s son,” said Mehmood from Jamal Din Wali.
“I am not scared by these tactics. I was the one who got Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi elected from Rahim Yar Khan and now the Chaudhrys and the rest of the party are supporting my opponent. It’s like if I go to Gujrat and support the Nawabzadas there,” said Mehmood, who is now backed by PPP bigwig and former finance minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin.
“A lot of people from the area support me. I have been winning from the area for the last 12 years. I have got the support of 90 UCs out of 122. The people will decide on Thursday who is corrupt,” he said.
Hidayatullah, whose business interests are based in the UAE, rubbished the allegations of land transfer. “There is absolutely no truth in these allegations. Makhdoom Sahib got into trouble because the parliamentarians from the area turned against him,” said Hidayatullah. “If someone loses the support of such a large majority then naturally, the PML will look to another candidate and Leghari Sahib was the best of them.” In a district sharply divided into Seraiki locals and Punjabi settlers, the loss of PML support is likely to cost Mehmood dearly, as not only does it deprive him of precious government backing, but also a chunk of his normally dependable Seraiki vote.
The Leghari clan in supported by half the powerful Makhdoom clan of Mianwali Qureshian, including Makhdoom Ruknuddin, Makhdoom Ashfaq and Makhdoom Noor Mohammad.