Major shift in Chakwal’s politics as PML-N embraces arch-rival

CHAKWAL: Former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas, who throughout his political career remained the arch-rival of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), has joined the ruling party.

“I have formally joined the PML-N,” Mr Abbas told Dawn Saturday evening. Mr Abbas met MNA Hamza Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore Saturday evening and decided to join the party unconditionally.

Mr Abbas said he would try his best to work with the local leaders of the PML-N.

Former district nazim Sardar Ghulam Abbas took the decision after meeting Hamza Shahbaz

“All local politicians of PML-N, except MPA Chaudhry Liaquat Ali, had worked with me. Therefore, I would try my best to work with them for the betterment of the people of Chakwal.”

He said he himself did not approach the top leadership of PML-N rather after the local government elections he was approached by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who offered him to join the PML-N.

In reply to a question, Mr Abbas said his political friends would not have any objection about his decision. “I am a very lucky person that my friends are very sincere and loyal to me. They would accept my decision,” he said.

At a recent meeting with MNA Hamza Shahbaz, all the local lawmakers of the PML-N had expressed their reservations about Sardar Ghulam Abbas. But the top leadership of the party while putting aside the reservations decided to take in Mr Abbas.

“I respect the decision of the top leadership but the inclusion of Sardar Abbas in the PML-N has left the workers of the party shocked. I would meet the prime minister and discuss the matter with him in detail,” MNA Tahir Iqbal told Dawn.

MNA Iffat Liaquat and MPA Malik Tanveer Aslam expressed similar views. They said they accepted the decision of the top leadership. “With the arrival of Mr Abbas, the party would be strengthened,” said Malik Tanveer Aslam, who is a provincial minister.

“Our mission is to serve the people and we would continue it,” said MNA Iffat Liaquat. MNA Sardar Mumtaz Tamman said time would decide whether Mr Abbas would be beneficial for the party or not.

Senator Abdul Qayyum told Dawn that with Mr Abbas the PML-N could retain its unbeatable status in the district.

“I can act as a bridge between Mr Abbas and all other local leaders of the PML-N. I would try my best to make them united. We would take a huge advantage by the talent and experience of Mr Abbas. Our objective should be to serve the people of the district,” he said.

Mr Abbas was first elected to the Punjab Assembly in the 1985 elections which were held on a non-party basis. Later, he contested six more elections – four for the Punjab Assembly and two for the National Assembly – but could win the Punjab Assembly seat twice.

He was elected as MPA in 1993 under the banner of the Pakistan People’s Party and was made a provincial minister.

When Pervez Musharraf founded the PML-Q, Mr Abbas joined the party and was twice elected as the district nazim. During his seven-year stint as the district nazim, he remained a close aide to Musharraf and the Chaudhrys of Gujrat and launched a number of projects in the district and strengthened his vote bank.

In 2011, he joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) but hardly a year later left the party after developing differences with Imran Khan.

The top leadership of the PML-N was impressed by the performance of the Ghulam Abbas Group in the last local government elections in which the latter won 22 seats of union council chairmen in the PML-N dominated district.

The independent candidates mostly led by Mr Abbas cracked the PML-N’s stronghold in Chakwal, a district from where the party currently has nine parliamentarians and an adviser to the chief minister.

The not-so-good performance by the PML-N in the local government elections against the group of Mr Abbas served an excuse for business tycoons who had long been trying to bring him into the PML-N.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2016

Courtesy DAWN