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August 10, 2018

South Punjab group actively lobbying for Punjab CM slot


August 10, 2018

LAHORE: After the defeat of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Dreshak family from Rajanpur has emerged as the strongest group of South Punjab which is also actively lobbying to clinch the Punjab chief minister’s slot.

Dreshaks of Rajanpur, who are led by their chieftain Sardar Nasarullah Khan Dreshak, has won five Punjab Assembly seats and one National Assembly from the region and this group is actively lobbying for Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak, former finance minister who is also son of Sardar Nasarullah Dreshak.

His brother Ali Raza, who also won in 2013 by-polls from the seat vacated by the chief minister and defeated the group of Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani, sitting deputy speaker of PA has also won from the district. His cousin Tariq Dreshak, who also won a provincial seat on July 25 polls died just a few days after his victory and this seat stands vacant now. Dreshaks joined the PTI with the successful lobbying of Jahangir Tareen in the mid of the year 2018 and this group almost swept the polls where its candidates were contesting.

From the Southern Punjab region, Shah Mehmood Qureshi remained unfortunate as he lost the provincial seat due to which for the time being, he was out of the CM race. Khosas, another noted group of Southern Punjab who belong to Dera Ghazi Khan have also lost from all but one seat and the only member of this group who had been elected as MPA is the grandson of Sardar Zulfiqar Khosa.

Besides, the group of Mazaris led by their chief Mir Balakh Sher Mazari has also won in form of his son Riaz Mazari, who is MNA and grandson Dost Mohammad Mazari, a former PPP MNA who has been elected as MPA now. Like Dreshaks, this group has also won seats in district Rajanpur and Dost Mohammad is also a young, literate figure and also falls on the criterion set by Imran, who in a recent parliamentary meeting of his party revealed that Punjab chief minister would be a young face with a clean image.

Hasnain Bahadur Dreshak, however, also has a clean image and faced no allegation or corruption charges while he served as provincial minister in the cabinet of Pervaiz Elahi, the chief minister between 2002-2007. His father Sardar Nasarullah Dreshak has been elected as MNA, MPA for multiple terms since 1970s and possesses a high stature in the political elite of Southern Punjab.

Amongst Makhdooms of Rahim Yar Khan who are siding with the PTI, Hashim Jawan, brother of Khusro Bakhtiar, has won a provincial seat, whereas the group of Makhdoom Ahmed Alam Anwar won a National Assembly seat for his son Mubeen Alam but lost the provincial seat.

While keeping in view the current situation in Southern Punjab, Dreshaks are so far topping the race as they are not confronted with any high-profile person as most of them lost polls.

Hassain Jahanian Gardezi is one of the figures who also served as provincial minister in the cabinet of Pervaiz Elahi and possesses a good record. This is noteworthy that the PTI is yet to finalise the name of the Punjab chief minister amid vibrant lobbying by noted groups within the party for the top slot.

On the one hand, the PTI leadership claims that it has attained the required number in the Punjab Assembly to form the government, but, on the other, it hasn’t been able to nominate a person for the slot of chief minister despite the fact that it possessed several big names, both from central and southern regions of Punjab.

Moreover, the tug-of-war between the groups of former secretary general of PTI Jehangir Khan Tareen and senior vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi is also dubbed as the prime reason behind the delay in the nomination of the CM candidate in the party circles, and most of the senior leaders believe that to minimise the chances of any split within the PTI, the chairman needs to come up with a name who could be acceptable to both sides.

Nevertheless, strong lobbying by the powerful groups in the PTI is under way in both central and southern Punjab and the classic blame-game against any candidate whose name circulates in the media or party circles becomes visible on the social media and it becomes hard to find a person whose name isn’t attached with controversy.

From Central Punjab region, the name of Raja Yasir, who is also a first time winner and hails from Chakwal is also doing rounds in the PTI circles. Before him, names of Abdul Aleem Khan, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Sibtain Khan have also been in circulation, all of them except Mehmoodur Rasheed have been provincial ministers in the cabinet of Pervaiz Elahi.

Besides, for some days, name of Dr Yasmin Rashid, who lost the NA-125 poll but bagged more than 100,000 votes, was also amongst the top contestants for the chief minister’s slot. From Central Punjab, the name of Fawad Chaudhry was highlighted in the media as a candidate for the slot of CM and he also hails from a noted family of Jhelum. His uncle Ch Altaf Hussain was the governor Punjab, his another uncle Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry was a judge of the Lahore High Court, his cousin Farrukh Altaf, also an MNA, has been the district Nazim of Jhelum and Fawad himself won two seats NA-67 and PP-27. Fawad does have a political stature while keeping in view the family he belongs to, but, at the same time, he is also facing opposition within his own party for multiple reasons.

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