Likemindeds likely to suffer in KP with Saifullah’s appointment as PPP chief


The PML likeminded is likely to lose its existence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the appointment of Anwar Saifullah Khan as the provincial PPP president.
Anwar is the brother of Salim Saifullah Khan, the founding chief of PML likeminded, who now seems inactive with Anwar’s appointment as PPP provincial chief.
Anwar was elected to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in independent and individual capacity in 2008 general election, and became the fourth provincial president of the PPP in a period of four-and-a-half years. Provincial senior minister Rahim Dad Khan was the occupant of the office during and after 2008 general election, but he was replaced by Health Minister Zahir Ali Shah in early 2009. However, Shah had failed to come up to the expectations of both, the party’s central high command and the workers. In 2011, Shah was replaced by Senator Sardar Ali Khan, who is considered friend and aide of President Asif Ali Zardari. Ultimately without even completing a year in office, Khan was replaced by Anwar. No one can deny the fact that Rahim had run the affairs of the party in the most critical stage as the party had sustained a severe setback in 2002 general elections.
Amongst the four provincial PPP presidents, Anwar seems to be the luckiest as besides enjoying the support of the PPP workers, he has also got solid backing of the PML likeminded. His family’s traditional rivals in Lakki Marwat have already detached themselves from the PML-N and one of the two groups has become part of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
It seems impossible in the near future that the PML-N and the JUI-F would enter into an alliance or carry out any seat adjustment in both Lakki Marwat and Bannu districts, which might be beneficial to none other than the Saifullahs, who returned to the PPP after 35 years. Begum Kulsoom Saifullah Khan was the provincial president of PPP women wing until the imposition martial law by Ziaul Haq in July 1977 while Humayun Saifullah had also served in important political positions from 1973 to 1977 when the PPP was governing the country. The Saifullahs remained in occupation of important government positions after the imposition of martial law till August 17, 1988 air crash. From 1988 till 1990, the family remained part of the Zia-created Islami Jamhoori Ittehad but it failed in getting adjustment with Nawaz Sharif when he entered into an alliance with the Awami National Party in 1989.
During this period, Humayun become member of the Aftab Sherpao cabinet. In 1993, Anwar become federal minister in Benazir Bhutto cabinet and during his stay in the cabinet, Anwar got into the good books of Benazir. On those grounds, he was the favourite for the top office after 2008 elections. But unfortunately Anwar’s dreams could not be materialised with the unfortunate demise of Benazir Bhutto.
Soon after 2008 general elections, Anwar was amongst those MP’s who opposed PPP-ANP alliance. In this respect, he had developed an understanding with some of independent MP’s and had approached President Asif Ali Zardari. But Zardari opposed such ideas. Later Anwar was picked up as favourite for the office of governor but his nomination was opposed by the ANP leadership. The ANP leadership favoured Barrister Masud Kausar.
The Saifullahs made an attempt to get the blessing of the ANP leadership but they rejected the idea saying the Saifullahs had always portrayed the ANP as an enemy instead of contemporaries and political rivals.
Whatever President Asif Ali Zardari’s strategies in connection with the upcoming elections are, Anwar’s appointment as party’s provincial president is likely to become the main obstacle in the PPP-ANP alliance.
President Zardari and other PPP stalwarts have time and again declared of contesting elections through an alliance with the allies but it seem hard in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where in his first ever press conference, Anwar had ruled out chances of any alliance with the ANP.
Instead of entering into an alliance with the ANP, Anwar is likely to go for seat adjustment with individuals and influential groups in various parts of the province.
It also seems that Anwar is likely to mediate between President Zardari and Aftab Sherpao as both of them have a similar attitude towards the ANP.
Appointment of Anwar could lead to a break up in the alliance between the ANP and the PPP but it could also cause severe problems for the JUI-F and the PML-N, particularly in southern districts. So far it seems that these three leading political forces are likely to go for solo flight in the upcoming elections.