Tehrik-i-Insaf or PML-N, Shah Mehmood Qureshi a game changer

Shah Mehmood Qureshi`s resignation from the basic party membership of the Pakistan People`s Party (PPP) as well as the National Assembly has his rival political parties on tenterhooks.
Each of them is hoping that the longtime PPP stalwart becomes a part of it “ for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) it would give them an opportunity to bolster its presence in south Punjab, for the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) there is no harm in having an `old` face with a reliable vote bank with the `new` faces that mark the party right now.
Qureshi left the PPP after 18 years to protest against the party`s coalition with the PML-Quaid, and then he also claims for the government`s failure to address the problems of the common man.
Throughout his long association, Qureshi was a force to reckon with within the rank and file of the PPP: he was the frontrunner to become prime minister, but lost to Yousuf Raza Gilani, and had headed the Punjab chapter of the party for many years.
This stemmed from his good relations with the late Benazir Bhutto, and because he has considerable influence in the southern belt of the province with his position as `makhdoom` for his followers who are in good numbers even in some parts of Sindh. Hence, unlike other PPP turncoats, Qureshi is in great demand.
None other than PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, with whom he once served as finance minister in the provincial cabinet, is trying to woo him to join his party. In fact, on Tuesday, at the invitation of the PML-N chief, Qureshi travelled to Raiwind for a meeting.
The red-carpet welcome that was accorded to Qureshi in Raiwind – the entire PML-N leadership stood with their hands folded in his honour – showed the main opposition party was desperately looking for an affirmative nod.
However, much to the chagrin of news hungry TV channels, Qureshi at the end of the meeting remained tight-lipped about whether he would join the PML-N.
He deferred all decisions relating to his future political course till November 27, when he intends to address a political rally in Ghotki, Sindh.
Reliable sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the party was more than willing to take Qureshi on board at his terms and conditions, but he has sought more time to make up his mind.
According to them, Qureshi was confused whether he should join the PML-N or head a separate group comprising dissidents from within the PPP and then form an alliance.
The main reason why the PML-N is willing to go the extra mile to have Qureshi on board is because the PPP owes its strong vote base to him in the southern districts of Punjab. And with him parting ways with Zardari, the Sharif brothers are looking for a good show in the south where their party has struggled in the past.
The PML-N feels that since the PPP is in an alliance with the PML-Q, they have the potential to wipe out whatever electoral presence the party carries in the so-called Saraiki belt of the province.
In fact, PPP and PML-Q`s representatives outnumber the PML-N in the region: they have 36 seats compared to PML-N`s 12 in the current National Assembly. And of the 12 districts in southern Punjab, PML-N has a presence in only six.
Talking to Dawn , a sitting PML-Q MNA from the southern belt agreed that in the absence of Qureshi it would not be an easy run for the PPP in the Saraiki belt. Moreover, he said, if Qureshi joined hands with the PML-N, then PPP candidates would have to a challenge canvassing support in the run-up to the next general elections.
This has created some uneasiness, which was witnessed during the meeting of PML-Q parliamentarians this week.
On the eve, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain categorically warned party lawmakers hailing from the south that after Qureshi quitting the PPP, they will be facing tough competition ahead, hence, they needed to close their ranks.
Therefore, he said, it had become imperative for the party to have an election alliance with the PPP.
On other hand, in the hope of roping in some elect-able faces to his PTI, Imran Khan is also keeping his fingers crossed over the future move of Qureshi. Though Qureshi is yet to announce his next political move, spokespersons for both the PML-N and PTI have predicted Qureshi was poised to join their ranks.
Mr Qureshi is a seasoned and shrewd politician who will be game-changer in the next elections – no doubt he`ll play his cards wisely this time around as well.

Spell Bounder

I'm journalist in Pakistan,And working in this field about 20 years.