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March 3, 2012

All the president’s men make it to Senate


March 3, 2012

For the first time, the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has given preference to some of the lesser known workers of its party in the recently-held Senate elections. The decision, which has been welcomed by a number of political activists, signifies, for some, a change that is brewing in the party.
However, others have said that most of the new senators of the PPP who have been elected from Sindh have not necessarily been chosen on merit, as most of them are considered close to the president or his sister.
“The party has always given seats to the workers in the Senate polls; however, this time, far more representation has been given to them,” said the winning candidate, Saeed Ghani, who is a well-known trade union activist in Karachi.
The delighted workers showered rose petals on Saeed Ghani and the other victorious candidate Mukhtiar alias Aajiz Dhamra. Some of the workers, overwhelmed by emotions, even carried the newly-elected senators on their shoulders.
Saeed Ghani emerged as a labour leader of the party after the murder of his father, Osman Ghani, in 1995. Osman Ghani had been a prominent trade union leader in the metropolis.
He was elevated to the post of general secretary of the PPP, Karachi division, in the year 2009. He had also remained an opposition leader in City District Government Karachi (CDGK) for eight years. Ghani, who had graduated from the Government Commerce College, was detained twice during Musharraf’s era for participating in the movement for restoring the country’s judiciary.
“It is a matter of much happiness that a trade union activist has been allotted a ticket to the Senate,” said Saeed Ghani, during a brief chat with The News that he had while the polling for Senate elections were under way in the Sindh Assembly. He added that, this time, a greater number of workers had been allotted tickets in other provinces.
Aajiz Dhamra said he is the third generation of a family staying

loyal to the PPP. His grandfather, Qazi Muhammad Bux, was a founding member of the party in the Sanghar district. Bux was detained so many times that he was given the nick-name ‘Baba-e-Jail’, quipped Dhamra.
His father, Ghulam Haider, was an employee of the health department. Haider was detained during the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1986, and was later terminated from his government service.
Dhamra, who graduated in International Affairs from Sindh University, has been president of the People’s Youth Wing, Sindh for the last six years. He is also the coordinator of the youth wing for the country. He was booked under the anti-terrorism act in 2005 for taking out a rally in Lahore in support of the then detained Asif Ali Zardari. Dhamra, who appeared in a jovial mood, told The News that it was his 39th birthday.
Dr Kareem Khawaja joined the Sindh People’s Students Federation (SPSF) in 1981 when he was medical student in the Liaquat Medical College, Jamshoro. He was detained twice during the two phases of the MRD, in the years 1982 and 1986. He had also served as vice president and information secretary of the SPSF Sindh chapter. In 1989, he was nominated as the founding president of the party’s medical wing, the ‘People’s Doctors Forum’, by Benazir Bhutto. He is also associated with the party’s health policy board.
Muddasir Saher Kamran, who has been elected for the women’s reserved seat of the Senate, said she had seen Bhuttos from very close as her father, Iqbal Hussain, was the in charge of the ‘prime minister’s house’ in Karachi and Larkana during the 1970s.
She joined the PSF’s women wing in the year 1983 and served as its president during her days as a student in Karachi University from 1987 to 88. She said that when Benazir Bhutto became prime minister in 1989, she made it a point to call on her. She migrated to Saudi Arabia where, in 1999, she became principal of the ‘Pakistan International School’ in Jeddah. At the time, the school provided education to some 2,700 children, most of whom were Pakistanis.
She accompanied BB on her return to Karachi, and even sustained injuries during the Karsaz blasts. Hari Ram, who has been elected to the seat reserved for minorities, is also known to be an old friend of President Asif Ali Zardari.

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