By Tariq ButtJanuary 11, 2017Print : National
ISLAMABAD: Prominent senior politician Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat has taken a risky but bold decision by returning to his parent party, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), after fifteen years at a time when it is in a deep trouble especially in Punjab.
“I have some political options and chose the PPP because I will have a very good comfort level in it,” he told The News when contacted. He remained associated with the PPP for more than twenty-five years but revolted against it along with nearly a dozen members of the National Assembly (MNAs) after being elected on its ticket in the massively rigged 2002 general polls. They had formed a group of “Patriots”, which, in fact, was a misleading nomenclature because they were in reality turncoats, who ran away from the PPP for greener pastures.
It was only due to their floor crossing that military dictator Pervez Musharraf was able to install his hand-picked prime minister, Zafarullah Jamali, as prime minister. Almost all the Patriots were inducted in the federal cabinet and the cases that had been opened by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them to coerce them into switching loyalty became dormant after they had yielded to this pressure tactics. Despite colossal maneuvering, Musharraf’s king’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) failed to get even the simple majority to be in a position to form government. The Patriots had met this deficiency.
Faisal Saleh also had the option of joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for being an intimate friend of its chairman Imran Khan, but he stayed away from it for cogent reasons. He might have committed a blunder had he affiliated himself with the PTI because it has a different culture, alien to him.
He had contested the 2013 general elections from his traditional Jhang seat and lost to the PML-Nawaz nominee. Despite being an independent candidate, he had secured the highest number of votes, 80,000 plus, in Pakistan. He always considered his rout questionable and dubious. He had discounted the PML-Q ticket on the premise that its sponsorship was totally inconsequential.
Faisal Saleh had been elected for at least six times and had been minister for over a dozen times since 1977 when he had become the youngest MNA. He faced imprisonment for the PPP for a long time, but never said goodbye to it in its hard times.
He realizes the dismal situation the PPP is faced with in Punjab, but believes that its revival lies in reactivation of its “Jiyalas” (hardcore workers). He says this is the biggest challenge the party is confronted with.
Both father and son, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal, who share the stewardship of the PPP, will shortly visit Shah Jeevana, Jhang, where the homecoming of Faisal Saleh, Khalid Kharal and some others would be formalized at a public meeting.
Faisal Saleh is certain that Bilawal has the potential, charisma, drive and motivation to revive the PPP. He feels that the young man should be given a free hand to deliver. He did not say but it is gathered that he wants Zardari to remain on the sidelines for the greater good of the PPP and Bilawal should lead it from the front foot. He asserts that the young man is the heir of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and can steer it out of the dire straits.
He is of the opinion that a number of disgruntled PPP leaders, who have abandoned it for different reasons, may be willing to come back once confidence is restored in it. He reckons that such figures are sick and tired of the policies of the parties they have joined in desperation.
Faisal Saleh says he has told the party leadership that the PPP has also stood for resistance against the status quo and establishment and not for reconciliation and compromise.