PPP and APML vie to charm Sher Afgan Niazi


Former minister Sher Afgan Khan Niazi is most likely to rejoin his parent political party–Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)– after PPP co-chairman President Asif Ali Zardari urged him to do so through a common friend. A source confided to Pakistan Today that Sher Afgan, who was instrumental in arranging recent demonstrations in district Mianwali against power cuts, has been approached by the president who has promised him the party’s Senate ticket in March elections while his son, Amjad Khan, would be awarded party ticket in next elections. Afgan had announced to leave Pervez Musharraf-led APML recently and since then, he has been busy in his constituency to regain political support for the next elections.
On the other hand, an APML source said, two groups of APML had held separate meetings with Niazi but to no avail. “APML leaders and close confidants of General Musharraf, Dr Mohammad Amjad and General (r) Rashid Qureshi recently visited Dr Sher Afgan and urged him to review his decision and rejoin the party,” said an APML source, adding that party’s secretary information for Sindh, Mohammed Ali, had also held a follow-up meeting with Niazi but to no avail. “I think he has made some political decision for future,” said the source, adding that the party leadership however was hopeful of return of Niazi to the party. The source said Sher Afgan wanted to get the slot of chief coordinator of the party in place of former minister Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain but General Musharraf did not agree.
“(Former) President Musharraf had directed Sher Afgan to organise the party in Southern Punjab which dismayed the former minister and after developing differences with the party’s Secretary General Barrister Mohammed Ali Saif and Secretary Information Fawad Chaudhry who he said wanted hegemony in Punjab, he finally quite the party,” said the source.
Fawad Chaudhry told this scribe that Niazi would soon rejoin the APML and successive meetings with him were successful. He however said General Musharraf had not contacted Niazi yet. When contacted, Sher Afgan said he was not contacted by any politician for joining any political party. However, he admitted that he was very active in his constituency and was meeting people of the area with a conviction to fight in the next elections. “I have contested many elections as an independent candidate and I have won. This time I will again contest polls independently. Even today, I visited Tehsil Piplaan and met with my electorate,” he said. Asked whether he had any intention to rejoin the APML, Niazi said he would not rejoin the APML and it was his final decision. “I have also resigned from the party’s basic membership and would stick to my decision,” he asserted. Niazi has a history of contesting elections from Mianwali as an independent candidate, before joining the PPP.