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Karachi

July 17, 2017

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ANOTHER WICKET DOWN: Disillusioned with PTI, Naz Baloch returns ‘home’ to PPP

ANOTHER WICKET DOWN: Disillusioned with PTI, Naz Baloch returns ‘home’ to PPP

Naz Baloch, a young politician who fervently advocated the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) stance on every national issue during TV talk shows, is no longer affiliated with the party.

In a surprising move, she told a news conference on Sunday that she had decided to end her seven-year association with the PTI and formally announced joining the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Flanked by PPP-backed Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the party’s central leader Faryal Talpur, Naz said she opposed the PTI leaders’ Punjab-centric politics and their disregard for Sindh. “As a daughter and representative of Sindh, I feel that the PTI’s focus is centred on Punjab.”

She claimed that she had tried her best to persuade the party’s supremo Imran Khan to pay attention to Sindh and its capital Karachi. “Whenever he came to the city for his five- or six-hour visits, he was kept away from PTI workers by the party’s Karachi leadership. I had openly voiced my concerns about it.”

Daughter of the PPP’s veteran leader Abdullah Baloch, Naz has also served as a provincial minister. “I have returned home, as my father had laid down the foundation of the PPP alongside Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.”

Criticising the appointment of the same group of individuals as the PTI’s Karachi leaders, she said support for the party had significantly decreased, mainly because of a lack of a proper organisational structure. “In the past elections the PTI mustered enough votes to bring about a change, but now the party itself is changing.”

Complaining about the “male chauvinistic behaviour prevalent within the PTI”, she said “women do not have considerable representation in the party”.

‘Great blow to PTI’

Although some PTI leaders, such as Shafqat Mehmood, have termed Naz’s exit insignificant, party workers and analysts believe that her departure is a great blow to the party, especially in the city.

Naz had joined the PTI in 2011 and become a popular leader in the metropolis. In the 2013 general elections she contested from NA-240 (Karachi-II), a National Assembly constituency comprising Baldia Town and the Sher Shah locality, and ranked second by securing over 21,000 votes. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had won the seat with 87,000 votes.

She vigorously promoted her party’s stance in the electronic media as well as on the social media. On Twitter alone she has around 627,000 followers. “We are sad to hear that Naz has left the party. She was a dedicated member,” a PTI Karachi leader told The News on the condition of anonymity.

He claimed that she was being sidelined by a certain group of individuals running the party’s affairs in the province. “Imran Khan should intervene, reset the PTI in Karachi and stop committed workers from abandoning the party.”

PPP leaders welcomed Naz on board. “Because of her active role in the PTI and her father’s loyalty, the PPP will accommodate her in the party,” said a PPP Karachi leader.

‘Poor organisational structure’

Terming Naz’s exit a great loss to the PTI, analysts believe the party’s poor organisational structure in Karachi and its Punjab-centric politics have been frustrating ideological workers and forcing them to join other parties.

Before her, two former PTI Sindh presidents – Nadir Laghari and Zubair Khan – bid the party adieu and joined the PPP, while Syed Hafeezuddin, one of the three MPAs, joined the Pak Sarzameen Party.

In the 2013 general elections the PTI gave a tough time to its opponents, especially the MQM and the PPP, in a majority of national and provincial assembly seats in Karachi and emerged as the second largest party in the city.

But since then, according to analysts, Imran Khan has failed to concentrate on Karachi’s politics or the party’s organisational structure in the city, initially restricting the PTI’s focus to the claims of rigging in some Lahore constituencies and the demands for re-polling, and then expanding it to Panamagate.

Consequently, say the analysts, it has become quite difficult for the PTI to regain its sterling voter response it had received back in the 2013 polls. The significant decrease in the PTI’s vote bank was evident in the NA-246 (Karachi-VIII) by-polls conducted in April 2015 and the local government elections held that December.

Most recently, even though the PTI was supported by two former lawmakers – Irfanullah Marwat and Sardar Abdul Rahim – the party ranked fourth (5,942 votes) in the July 9 by-polls for PS-114 (Karachi-XXVI), a constituency where it had secured 15,000 votes in the previous general elections.

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