Alarmed by departure of Ashraf Sohna, the PPP leadership has approached two other former federal ministers, following reports they too have plans to say goodbye to the party for different reasons.
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PPP central Punjab president Manzoor Wattoo, on the direction of the party leadership, contacted on Tuesday former federal ministers Nazar Gondal and Sumsam Bokhari and discussed ‘rumours’ about their plans to quit the party and join the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
“Both Mr Gondal and Mr Bokhari dismissed such reports and reiterated their commitment to the party and its leadership,” Mr Wattoo told Dawn. When asked whether the Gondals’ reservations with regard to the PPP leadership included not stopping the PML-N government from “victimising” some of their family members (Zafar Gondal) in EOIB case, Mr Wattoo said: “Reservations are a routine matter and leaders do not quit parties on petty issues.” Former legislator retired Maj Zulfiqar Gondal, a relative of Gondals of Mandi Bahauddin, said that none of them was quitting the party.
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“Yes we have friends in the PTI who often try to convince us to join them but we have taken no such decision,” he said. Replying to a question about the family’s differences with the PPP top leadership, Mr Gondal said: “The PML-N government has got registered false cases against Zafar Gondal to politically victimise the Gondal family. It is often asked why PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who is considered close to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is not asking him about the victimisation and stopping his government from registering false cases against him (Zafar Gondal). Zulfiqar Gondal deplored that a friend of Asif Ali Zadari, who got clemency from him (during his tenure as president) after his conviction in corruption cases, had held a media trial of Zafar Gondal.
“That friend (of Mr Zardari) and his family are still close to the former president,” he said. He alleged that former interior minister Rehman Malik was the only beneficiary of PPP’s reconciliation policy and others including former prime ministers Yousuf Raza Giani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, were being still “victimised” by the PML-N government. “Why the Federal Investigation Agency does not take action against Rehman Malik for his alleged involvement in money laundering through model Ayyan Ali. It had been established that it was the money of Mr Malik’s brother Khalid Malik which the model was trying to launder to Dubai,” Mr Gondal argued. “But this does not mean we are saying goodbye to the PPP,” he added. Another PPP leader from Punjab told Dawn the party leaders and workers in the largest province were feeling frustrated.
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Since the PPP top leadership does not stop acting as ‘B Team’ of the PML-N, some of its leaders will be weighing the option of joining the PTI,” he said and urged both Bilawal Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari to camp in Punjab to address the workers’ concerns to salvage the party. “Sumsam Bokhari and some others have a right to consider other parties,” he said, adding that though Mr Bokhari had no reservations or any rift with the PPP leadership like former Punjab minister Ashraf Sohna had, he was pessimistic about the party’s future under the present circumstances.