Qureshi opens up feudal heartland to PTI
December 02, 2011
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who quit PPP and resigned from the National Assembly last month, has thrown in his lot with Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) setting all speculations about his new choice to rest. He didn’t choose his hometown, Multan, to announce his future political plans rather he organized a mammoth gathering in Ghotki, Sindh, last Sunday for this purpose.
Qureshi has never been content on one party. He kept changing his sides. PTI being his new choice, he has had colleagues in the persons of Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto in the past. Given his interests in agriculture and having one of the largest followings among the people in Punjab and Sindh for being the custodian of two shrines in Multan, his independent course makes it clear that he is more interested in defending his feudal interest.
Qureshi, who fell in disgrace after he had to step down as foreign minister, probably did not see any future in PPP. Yousuf Raza Gilani had already be given the top slot in the government. His social standing is far less than him and has created enough space in Multan and the southern region of Punjab due to huge funds he has pumped here. Before joining the PTI he had held a number of meetings with the PML-N leadership but he could not create a proper space for himself in this party.
The PTI rose to prominence after its October 31 rally in Lahore and Qureshi will certainly prove a valuable asset for it. Now it can hope to look beyond the mega cities where it has attracted youth, the professionals and other neglected sections of the society. The role of the Pir of Multan will be more visible in the countryside of Punjab and Sindh, where the majority of Pakistan’s voters live.
Qureshi is expected to be second in command in the hierarchy of the PTI leadership. It is not without reason that Shireen Mazari, who had been playing an active role in the party for long time, is considering quitting. The great lot that has left the PML-N and the PPP and joined PTI will certainly have no problem with the Qureshi’s prominent position in the party. Many towering personalities have left the PPP before and after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, but Qureshi’s departure is really a setback to the party. His wider connections in the feudal heartland, both in landed aristocracy as well as the commoners, is one reason; his ability to build alliance that can put the party in a really difficult situation the other.
The next general elections are too near and the PPP-led coalition government, despite doing wonders on the foreign policy level, has piled up frustration among each and every section of the society. The energy crisis accompanied by a heavy inflation has strained the nerves of all and sundry. The PTI is certainly going to play up the frustration of the masses; Qureshi has himself termed Zardari and Gilani thieves whom he has vowed to chase to their last abodes.
Though PML-N had expected Qureshi in its ranks and is little bit surprised over his landing in the PTI camp, it should heave a sigh of relief as, from now onward, he will make the PTI turn its guns against the PPP. The next move of the Pir of Multan will be to bring the odd entities closer. If the PML-Q has joined hands with the PPP, he has the means proper to make the leadership of the PML-N, PTI and PML-F together.
Qureshi has talked about a change but remember which stock he belongs to. He would be talking about the rulers and their bad habits. He may talk about the plight of the commoners and condemn corruption and the corrupt but he would not like to turn the world upside down, for he is not a revolutionary. He is not a reformer as well. Had he been so, he would have made some efforts to change the lot of the million of his disciples who fill the earth between Multan and Ghotki.