PPP Punjab secretary resigns from his post

  • Political analysts call Chan’s decision a huge setback for party

LAHORE: Political circles were reverberating with the prospect of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) General Secretary for Central Punjab Nadeem Afzal Chan joining the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) as he tendered his resignation on Thursday to party chairman Bilawal Bhutto on ‘moral grounds’.

The resignation of Chan comes days after his younger brother Waseem Afzal Gondal, a former provincial lawmaker, also parted ways with PPP to join PTI. The rumour got further traction because Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Chan’s paternal uncle and former federal minister of PPP-led coalition government, also joined PTI in June this year.

Talking to Pakistan Today, PPP leader Barrister Amir Hasan, who is also a ticket holder for the National Assembly constituency from Lahore, said that Chan has not left the party so far as he only resigned from the position of the general secretary because of moral grounds.

“It is a good omen that he resigned on moral grounds and his resignation is also justified because how can a person convince other people to come into the fold of the party if he himself fails to convince his own brother who has just joined the PTI,” said Hasan, who had a detailed meeting with Asif Ali Zardari few days ago at Lahore’s Bilawal House.

Nadeem Afzal Chan has cited his brother’s jump to PTI as the reason for his resignation, a copy of which was also available with Pakistan Today. Several key PPP leaders have already left the party after the dismal performance in the general elections of 2013 where party could not win even a single seat of the National Assembly and a provincial assembly from the 25 districts of Central Punjab.

The party’s share in the Punjab Assembly shrank to just eight from 93 seats after 2013 and it led to several PPP leaders, including Raja Riaz, Ashraf Sohna, Syed Samsam Bukhari, Dr Firdos Ashiq Awan, Nazar Gondal and many more, to quit the party. All of them joined PTI.

Veteran journalist and political analyst Sohail Warraich told Pakistan Today that Chan’s quitting would be a huge setback for the party because he was among the few PPP candidates who can still win their seats in Punjab. “According to my information, Nazar Gondal, Waseem Afzal Gondal and Nadeem Afzal Chan were in contact with the PTI for long because of the down trending graph of PPP,” he said.

“PTI has successfully wooed the two Gondals and it would be drastic for the PPP if the third Gondal also joined PTI because he has great influence in his constituency,” said Warraich, who is considered as an expert on constituency politics of Punjab. Chan secured over 60,000 votes in 2013 from his constituency NA-64 (Sargodha) at a time when his party was wiped out from the Central Punjab.

Sumsam Bukhari also said that PTI was in continuous contact with all the Gondal brothers for some time. He remained hopeful that Nazar Gondal would be successful in persuading Chan as Gondal was his real paternal uncle. On the other hand, Waseem Gondal ruled out any chance of his brother’s joining of PTI.

“I am 100 percent sure that my elder brother Nadeem Afzal Chan will not leave PPP and I will not try to persuade him to join PTI as I myself was also not convinced by him to remain in PPP,” Gondal said, adding that it was the beauty of democracy that two real brothers could hail from two different parties.

Gondal also quoted other examples where two brothers belong to different parties as Zubair Umar and Asad Umar represent PML-N and PTI respectively and Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Mureed Hussain Qureshi are from PTI and PPP respectively.

PPP Information Secretary for Central Punjab Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also confirmed that Chan was not leaving the party. “He is going nowhere, the party is in contact with him and he is due to meet with Asif Zardari shortly,” he said. However, Chan was not available for his comments despite repeated attempt.