NABEEL ANWAR DHAKKU
CHAKWAL: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is gaining strength in the Chakwal district, after several village heads and two prominent political figures recently joined the party. Former district coordinator Raja Yasir Humanyun Sarfraz played a vital role in bringing new faces into the party, and is optimistic that the future of Chakwal’s politics will depend on the PTI.
On June 28, Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, the district coordinator of the PML-Q, quit the party and announced that he was joining the PTI. Just eight days prior, former district council chairman Malik Habib Khan from the PML-N also joined the PTI, along with his son Kashif Habib.
Mr Ali made his announcement during a ceremony held at his residence, attended by PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood, Amir Kayani, Attaullah Khan Esakhelivi and Mr Sarfraz.
As an influential chieftan of the Chaudhrys of Chakwal, Mr Ali enjoys a considerable vote bank.
At the time of his announcement, Mr Ali did not discuss the reason he quit the PML-Q and joined the PTI. However, his son Chaudhry Naushad Ali told Dawn that indifferent behaviour and the continued silence of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat led to retrospection.
“We have been impressed by the philosophy and mission of Imran Khan, which is why we have decided to join the PTI. Under the present circumstances, only the PTI can take the country towards progress, prosperity and peace,” he said.
Mr Ali has been welcomed into the PTI’s fold by Mr Qureshi and Mr Sarfraz, alongside many other leaders.
Mr Qureshi said his arrival had strengthened the party and boosted the courage of its workers in Chakwal. “Since the emergence of Pakistan, except for the Pakistan Peoples Party, PTI is the second political party which has emerged from the grassroots level,” he said. He assured Mr Ali hat he would find great respect and love in the PTI, and saluted the courage and will of party chairman Imran Khan for remaining “steadfast and adamant”.
Mr Sarfraz said: “Chaudhry sb has roots in every nook and corner of the district. He has made a good decision in joining the PTI, as he has now become a part of our force.”
Mr Ali has contested elections for a Punjab Assembly seat three times as an independent candidate but has never won. He began his political career by contesting a provincial assembly seat in 1985, and then again in 1988. In 1990, the PPP gave him a ticket which he returned. In 1993, he joined the Junejo League and became its district president.
The then Punjab chief minister, Mian Manzoor Wattoo, gave him power in Chakwal, allowing him to carry out several uplift projects and winning him popular support. He then contested a Punjab Assembly seat as an independent candidate in 1997.
After 1997, he remained associated with former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas. He joined the PML-Q in 2002 along with Mr Abbas, and when Mr Abbas joined the PTI in 2011, Mr Ali attended a public gathering organised by Mr Abbas and addressed by Imran Khan. However, in March 2012, he met with Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and expressed his confidence in him.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2016