Media experiences ‘distasteful’ encounter with KP PPP new chief
By: Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: Friends, well-wishers, leaders, party activists and ‘opportunists’ continue to pour messages through newspaper advertisements to greet Senator Sardar Ali who replaced Health Minister Zahir Shah last week as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) president.
The selection of Ali as the party chief of KP, where power struggle in the party is no longer a secret, did not came as surprise, as the new provincial party chief is among few leaders who are “very close” to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, also the President of Pakistan.
A “special invitation” was circulated on Saturday through Information Department for journalists inviting them to first-ever press conference and interaction with Ali, who is unknown to many young reporters. However, it was not a “tasteful” encounter and experience of meeting the new PPP provincial chief, according to the reporters who were among the invitees.
Around three dozens of journalists from print and electronic media were arranged transportation to Pabbi — hometown of Ali — by the Information Department. Press conference was scheduled for 12 mid-noon. And Ali at that time, according to the party sources who told some reporters, left Islamabad for Pabbi where a warm reception was awaiting him from the party ministers, leaders and activists.
“It was a distasteful encounter with the PPP provincial chief,” said a reporter who believed long wait had mental toll on him and others. “If Ali goes by such pace he may miss the bus,” the reporter said in reference to hours long late arrival of Ali.
Analysts say Ali’s selection came at a critical time as the party will soon gear itself up for the national elections in KP province where the PPP has had “leadership crisis” and also “division” among leaders and growing disenchantment among workers threatening the party. The decision to replace Zahir Shah, according to the party leaders, was aimed at injecting anew spirit into the party leaders and supporters to retain power in the province where it is coalition partner with nationalist Awami National Party.
Ali reached native home three hours later than scheduled time when he was to address maiden press conference as party provincial president. No explanation was given for so-long-late arrival, according to the reporters.
The reporters’ long wait was finally over when stocky Ali appeared for the press conference amidst welcoming slogans from young party cadre, especially People’s Students Federation and People’s Youth members who turned the press conference into a political rally making the reporters even more angry who at one stage, according to the reporters, “walked out” minutes before the start of the press conference. However, party ministers such Humayun Khan, were able to bring the media-persons back to the news conference.
Had the reporters gone ahead with the boycott idea it would have heralded into “shocking start” to political carrier of Ali who joined the party in 1986 and held finance secretary portfolio when Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao was leading the PPP at that time. Ali was member of the National Assembly in 1988.
Ali finally addressed his maiden press conference finally after hours long wait, which also disturbed the schedule of lunch for the reporters, many of whom left the venue when PSF and People’s Youth overwhelmed the dining tables.
The PPP leaders say it was not deliberate as to what happened on Saturday. But fact of the matter is the whole show was poorly organized and Ali needed to look into the whole affairs of the party interests as serious questions over the organizational matters of the PPP in KP need convincing answers to get ready for forthcoming parliamentary elections.
Ali will have to come up with another show to display his organizing skills to dispel the impression that the party is unprepared for future challenges and tougher moments will follow in the wake of the toughest shows.
Source: Daily Times