In the presence of Asif Ali Zardari, six political personalities from five districts of South Punjab met with the central leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party and announced their joining the PPP. However, those who closely follow the politics of South Punjab do not seem very optimistic about it.
According to Muhammad Ali, a senior political analyst based in Multan, the PPP has made the third announcement about the joining of those candidates who met Asif Ali Zardari. The first announcement was made from Makhdom House Lahore, and the second announcement was made by Gilani Media House Multan. He also stated that the PPP South Punjab had already issued a press release awarding tickets to the said political personalities. Masood Majid Khan had submitted the PPP’s ticket from PP-206 Khanewal, and Pir Jamil Shah from PP-209 Khanewal.
Malik Tahseen Raza, a journalist from Muzaffargarh, said, “Syed Haroon Ahmed Bukhari, former MPA from PP-272 Muzaffargarh, is the only one of the six political figures recently joined the PPP from South Punjab, who is a winning heavyweight candidate. The rest are for the third or fourth position in their respective constituencies, and no one is even in getting the ‘runner-up position.'”
The PPP’s centers of important decisions in South Punjab are two – Gilani House in Multan and Makhdoom House in Rahim Yar Khan. Both centers have claimed many times that soon major political parties are going to join the PPP. However, Nadeem Raza, ex-director of news affair PTV News, said, “The same claim was made last year on the occasion of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Bilawal House Multan, but no notable political figure joined the party – such in vain claims were also made during Asif Ali Zardari’s stay in Vehari in the last week of March.”
Nadeem Raza also added that “PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari himself sometimes used to express a body language similar to that of a kingmaker in South Punjab, as he had such gestured during bye-elections in Rajanpur and Khanewal. A hypothesis is hotly debated inside and outside the PPP. It is being said that the party will contest elections in 20 to 30 National Assembly constituencies and around 40 Punjab Assembly seats with a large election fund and organized strategy. This strategy was first tested in the NA-60 Lahore and PP-206 Khanewal by-elections. It is not out of the question that some candidates may have joined the PPP under the influence of this popular assumption.”
Recently, Chahudry Nazeer Ahmad Jat, the head of the Nazir Jat group and leader of PTI from District Vehari, uploaded a video statement on social media and alleged that his nephew, Ashar Ali Jat, joined the PPP to get Rs10 million from Asif Ali Zardari for contesting the election, while calling him a ‘political orphan.’
Tahir Nasim, a journalist based in Khanewal, said, “Pir Jamil Shah is a very weak candidate for PP-209 and has no support from any powerful politically strong faction like Razaq Niazi Group of PTI or Iftikhar Nazir Group of PML-N, and neither does he have any support from Sohail Khagha Group. He had won the election in 2008 having a ticket of PPP with the support of the Ifthikar Nazir Group, and the other factor was Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Now, such a factor doesn’t exist. Masood Daha can save PPP from embracing situation and he can get 10,000 to 14,000 votes and capture 3rd position because here real match is between PML-N and PTI.”
“Rana Intezar is not any considerable political figure in Bahwalnagar’s election politics, he can’t dent.”, said Mahoud Ali Advocate, political analyst.
In South Punjab, PPP is expected to secure second or third position on eight to 10 National Assembly seats and 10 to 12 provincial assembly seats, while in six to seven seats of NA it is in a position to win after a tough contest. – While the competition for remaining seats is expected to be between PTI and Nawaz League. In the past, Pakistan People’s Party used to be the competitor of Nawaz League, now it is PTI, but PTI is in the game for number one in many constituencies in urban centers along GT Road.