PaK Council Polls Expose Opposition Tug Of War27 February 2011
Muzaffarabad: The recent election to the four vacant seats of the Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) Council may have earned four additional votes from official camp to the main opposition Peoples Party (PP-PaK), apart from one seat, it has also revived some old wounds of party’s old guards besides exposing the tug of war within its ranks, sources told Greater Kashmir on Sunday. The PP-PaK had seven members in the Legislative Assembly until Barrister Sultan Mahmood merged his 4-member People Muslim League with it in December last year. But of those four members, Speaker Chaudhry Anwaar-ul-Haq kept his affiliation ambiguous, perhaps also because the ruling Muslim Conference had got him elected against the third important office just 3-months ago. In the meanwhile, former PaK premier Haji Yaqoob Khan and MC MLA Siddique Batli also joined the PP-PaK, raising its strength to 12. However, in the Feb 22 election, not only the speaker cast his ballot in favour of a PP-PAK candidate but three cabinet members also followed suit. Resultantly, PP-PaK’s Chaudhry Mehboob clinched one seat by bagging 11 votes whereas another PP-PaK candidate, Sardar Manzoor, secured 5 votes and remained unsuccessful In a sense, it was something the PP-PaK should have rejoiced over, but, insiders say, it was the other way round. Reason being Mehboob’s association with Mahmood. “Yes, its true all is not well within the ranks of our party although we are gearing ourselves up to form the next government,” admitted a PP-PaK leader. According to sources, the post council election situation was almost reminiscent of April 2006 when Mahmood had got his close aide, Abdul Hameed Pothi, elected as council member after revolting against the decision of Benazir Bhutto in favour of one Salis Kiani. It was in the wake of that rebellion Mahmood was compelled to part ways with the PP-PAK and launch his own (now defunct) political party. Sources disclosed that at a high level meeting, held on Feb 8 at Zardari House Islamabad to decide the PP-PaK ticket(s) for the council election, federal ministers Syed Khurshid Shah and Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo declared that they had pledged to Mahmood ticket for Pothi. The announcement angered other participants, who included PPP women wing president Faryal Talpur, President Zardari’s political secretary Rukhsana Bangash, former federal minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, PP-PaK president Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, senior vice-president Chaudhry Yasin and secretary general Chaudhry Latif Akbar, and some of them could not help but say it would send a wrong message to the party’s diehard cadres. However, after a heated debate, participants willy-nilly agreed but with a condition that Mahmood would be asked to suggest someone else. On February 9, the two federal ministers facilitated Mahmood’s meeting with President Zardari following which the PP-PAK ticket was issued to Mehboob, who had not even submitted an application to the parliamentary board for ticket, sources said. Interestingly, on the same day, Ms Bangash conveyed to Majeed that ticket had been granted to Sardar Manzoor, an activist who had got his leg broken during a pro-Zardari demonstration in 2004.