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South Punjab politics temperature rises amid Zardari’s visit

Temperature of politics has risen significantly since the visit of Zardari, causing major setbacks for PMLN

By Nadeem Shah
January 06, 2024
PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari speaks with the media on January 5, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP
PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari speaks with the media on January 5, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Peoples Party - PPP 

MULTAN: The politics of South Punjab has taken a new turn, with the resurgence of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the electoral politics of the region. Political workers are hopeful that this will bring positive signs for democracy. 

The temperature of politics in the region has risen significantly since the visit of PPP’s stalwart Zardari, causing major setbacks for the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN).

Several former MPAs of the PMLN who are considered politically strong contenders have recently joined the PPP after meeting with Asif Zardari at Multan Bilawal House. Despite a hectic trip to South Punjab, the party’s performance has been assessed to have improved significantly since 2018. Political workers have observed that the Zardari visit will not only affect PMLN but also the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf.

The PPP-Parliamentarian president and former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari has focused on Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur divisions in his visit where Baloch chiefs, particularly Khosas led by Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, expected to formally join PPP.

His son and former Punjab chief minister Sardar Dost Muhammad Khosa joined the PPP in 2019 and he played a key role in gathering the disillusioned and disaffected members of the People’s Party under the party flag.

The Legharis and Khosas are traditional rivals in South Punjab politics while Legharis have stood with PMLN since Zulfiqar Khosa quit PMLN and disloyalty with PPP by Farooq Leghari. The formal joining of Zulfiqar Khosa will boost PPP not only in South Punjab but also in Sindh and Balochistan being the chieftain of the tribe.

The PPP has a relationship of three generations with the South Punjab region, from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to Mohterma Benazir Bhutho and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The South Punjab is an agrarian region and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutho made it stronger during her rule with massive relief to peasants. She fulfilled her commitments to the South Punjab people.

In the election campaign of 1993, her election rally was held in Pakistan Chowk of Dera Ghazi Khan, where she promised the people that her government would provide sui gas, university, and airport to Dera Ghazi Khan after coming to power. Her speech left a popular slogan in the district that Benazir would come to power and provide them with Sui gas. After these elections, she became the Prime Minister and fulfilled her promise. She visited the football ground of Government Boys High School for the last time in 1995 and announced the launch of Sui Gas, Airport, and Khawaja Farid University projects as per her commitment.

The work began on Sui Gas and Airport projects, but the then President of Pakistan, Farooq Khan Laghari dismissed her government and dissolved the assemblies on November 5, 1996. After that, the People’s Party was left out of the minimal electoral politics of the Dera Ghazi Khan district.

Political workers are expecting a big dent in the Leghari tribe as ex-MNA Dr Mina Leghari is likely to join the PPP. She is the widow of ex-MNA Sardar Jafar Khan Leghari. Political workers expect Asif Ali Zardari will visit Alipur, Muzaffargarh where former federal minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi will formally join the PPP.

Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties joined the PPP after meeting the President of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians Asif Ali Zardari at Multan Bilawal House. Former PMLN MPAs joined the PPP including Islam Aslam, Sardar Mohammad Nawaz Khan Rind, and his son Sardar Qamaruddin Khan Rind.

The former Rahim Yar Khan Municipal Committee chairman Mian Shehzad Anwar. Former Member of Punjab Assembly Mian Muhammad Ali Lalika, Rao Najibur Rehman, Rao Azizul Rehman, and Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed from Bahawalnagar have left Tehreek Labeek and joined the PPP, Muhammad Ayub Sandila and Imran Sandila of PMLN from Vehari left them and joined the PPP.