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Shaheed Benazir group in PPP in the offing

Shaheed Benazir groupISLAMABAD: Serious efforts are reported to be afoot to launch a new faction of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party comprising party leaders and activists who profess loyalty to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto but have been “sidelined” by the present leadership.

Arbab Khizer Hayat Khan, a PPP leader from Peshawar, is meeting PPP dissidents all over the country and persuading them to join the “PPP-Shaheed Benazir Group” which he plans to launch in Islamabad in a couple of weeks.

Sources told Dawn that Mr Hayat Khan had recently met Naheed Khan, former political secretary to Benazir Bhutto, and her husband Senator Safdar Abbasi, asking them to take a lead in joining the group which, according to him, had become “a need of the time to free the party from the clutches of opportunists”.

They said Naheed Khan and Senator Abbasi had assured their support to Mr Khan but, at the same time, had advised him not to take this drastic step in a hurry and without proper homework. They had also asked Mr Khan to put the plan on hold for some time. Because of the advice Mr Khan has delayed the announcement of the formation of the faction, but only for a few days, the sources added.

When contacted, Mr Khan claimed he had the support of a large number of diehard PPP activists and leaders, including some parliamentarians, in all the four provinces.

He, however, refused to disclose the names of his supporters and said “the ruling PPP has already started using various tactics to harass them”.

Mr Khan, who is a cousin of PPP leader and federal Minister for Communications Dr Arbab Alamgir, confirmed that he had delayed his plan for a few days, but claimed that he was doing it only for a week or so because he wanted to contact a few more important party members.

Answering a question, Mr Khan said the group was being formed to achieve three objectives, the foremost of which is to bring the murderers of Benazir Bhutto to justice. “Our second task is to rid the party of people who had left Ms Bhutto at the time of the attack on her and, thirdly, we want to bring the sincere and ideological workers and members back to the party fold,” he added.

Mr Khan, who joined the PPP after quitting the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) when Benazir Bhutto visited Peshawar a few days before her assassination, said senior PPP workers were getting disappointed with the party leadership. He alleged that the present leadership was not sincere to the nation or the party and that it would run away from the country after completion of the government’s term. According to him, this is the most appropriate time to save the party from “total disaster”.

Mr Khan vowed to revive “BB’s real party” and said his group would take the party out of drawing rooms and to the masses.

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