New PPP Punjab president by next week


LAHORE: PPP Co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari is likely to announce the new leader of the party’s Punjab chapter by next week, Pakistan Today learnt on Saturday.
Party insiders claimed that the PPP high command had finally decided to nominate an appropriate candidate so that coordination between the PPP central and provincial hierarchy could be improved.
Sources said Zardari delayed the nomination keeping in view the problems experienced by the party in the past when Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Farzana Raja were adopted by the federal government and a leadership gap transpired in Punjab.
They said Zardari wanted to field a competent as well as “capable” president for PPP Punjab, who could manipulate the situation well, especially the one that is likely to develop ahead of local body elections. They said that the Punjab governor held an important meeting with the president and discussed in detail the credentials of prospective candidates.
They added that the governor also highlighted the problems faced by the party due to the absence of a permanent party head in the province. The sources said although several politicians were in the race for the slot, Minister of State for Communication Imtiaz Safdar Warraich was a leading candidate and was being seriously considered for the slot by the party high command.
However, during meetings with the party co-chairman, Punjab Assembly legislators strongly backed Minister for Textile Rana Farooq Khan of Faisalabad, and he could prove a dark horse in the race.
Another strong candidate was Punjab Minister for Finance Tanvir Ashraf Kaira, but opposition from certain quarters compelled Zardari to change his mind.
The PPP Punjab president’s slot fell vacant after the resignation of Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan, who was defeated in by-elections from PP-63, Faisalabad, in May. The party then appointed PPP Punjab Secretary General Samiullah Khan as the acting provincial president.
The notification of the PPP Punjab acting president was issued initially for an interim period of three months and announced by on May 27 in a press conference through party Information Secretary Fouzia Wahab, but the notification had expired in August, and still the PPP had not announced the name of the new president.
Other leaders who party sources said did vie for the slot earlier included Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, who is vocal and has demonstrated his leadership skills besides successfully defending the party and government. The sources said although Awan’s name was considered, he was in the race to get the party secretary general slot in place of Jehangir Badr, who is not in the good books of the party high command.
The sources said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira’s was also considered for the PPP Punjab president seat, but he excused from accept the responsibility. Jamshed Dasti was also in the race, but consensus could not evolve on his name, sources said.