Aftab Sherpao to dissociate himself from PPP club


Former interior minister and chief minister, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, has made up his mind to end his family’s long association with the Pakistan People’s Party and he will now be renaming his political party, the PPP-Sherpao.
Several alternate names for the party are under consideration, but new comers in Sherpao’s ranks are urging him to emerge as a nationalist politician and that the new party should reflect his stance in a nationalist capacity.
Sources close to Sherpao said the veteran politician, his son Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao and other party stalwarts were in consultation with party members and workers at the district level to take them into confidence over the plans.
On completion of the consultation process, Sherpao would convene a convention at Peshawar where announcement regarding the renaming of party and reshaping of its flag would be made. Sherpao is making his best efforts to ensure maximum participation in the proposed convention, as it could be his first ever initiative as a nationalist politician.
Before supporting resolutions and constitutional amendments regarding the renaming of NWFP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sherpao was critical of such proposals.
When MRD arranged a public meeting at Jinnah Park, Peshawar under Zia’s regime, Sherpao had become emotional when progressive politician Meraj Mohammad Khan used the word Pakhtunkhwa.
But he later changed his mind and supported the resolution demanding renaming of NWFP. The one time PPP second-in-command, who twice remained the NWFP chief minister, Sherpao developed differences with Benazir Bhutto in 1996 when her government was dissolved by Sardar Farooq Leghari.
Both Sherpao and Legharis are related, therefore, it was difficult for Sherpao to decide between Benazir and Leghari. However, after the defeat in 1997 general elections, Sherpao become irrelevant to party affairs and finally announced his own faction, the PPP-Sherpao, in 1998. After his disassociation from the PPP, Sherpao was surrounded by almost all leading figures of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
On the eve of 2002 general elections, Sherpao succeeded to get two berths of the National Assembly and 10 in the provincial assembly.
Sherpao then got the portfolio of the Interior Ministry, while his party Senator Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli became the minister of state. However, she was unable to retain the 2002-like status in 2008 elections.
Sherpao also failed to keep close all those who had followed him from the PPP. Even his party’s provincial president’s Ahmad Hassan Khan, Syed Mureed Kazim and Pervez Khattak disassociated from the party, while MP’s elected on PPP-S ticket Sher Akbar Khan and Haji Jamshid from Buner, Tariq Khattak from Nowshehra and others also quit the party.
Since joining politics after the demise of his elder brother Hayat Mohammad Khan Sherpao in 1975, Aftab Sherpao remained hostile towards the dwellers of Wali Bagh, as they were directly blamed for involvement in Hayat Khan’s assassination in a bomb blast.
In light of the same, the PPP and ANP remained rivals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
However, Sherpao’s hostile approach towards the ANP intensified when the latter emerged as the majority party in 2008 general elections and formed its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the wake of his anti-ANP stance, Aftab Sherpao has attracted many disgruntled nationalists and progressive elements in the last one-and-a-half years and is surrounded by a number of socialists and nationalists who in past were declared “emeralds” by late Baloch nationalist politician Mir Ghaus Bukhsh Bizenjo.