ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Saturday suspended the basic membership of Senator Safdar Abbasi and issued show-cause notice to MNA Sherry Rehman, both members of the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), on charges of indiscipline, sources told Dawn.
Both Senator Abbasi and Ms Rehman were issued notices for participating in talk shows on a private TV channel in violation of the party’s decision to boycott all publications of a particular group, which also owns the channel.
Talking to Dawn, Senator Safdar Abbasi confirmed that he had received the suspension letter from the party’s secretary general, Jahangir Badar, through email, complaining that he was not given sufficient time to reply to a show-cause notice that was issued to him on Oct 20.
In Karachi, a group of women, mostly from Lyari and claiming to be PPP workers, gathered outside the Karachi residence of former information minister Sherry Rehman and burned her effigy to vent their “outrage over her participation in a talk show hosted by a channel which is slandering our leadership”.
Ms Rehman was not at her home at the time.
Curiously enough, there was no protest when Nabeel Gabol, PPP’s MNA from Lyari, appeared on the same TV channel and suggested that army should be called out in Karachi to handle the law and order situation.
Senator Abbasi regretted that he was in the process of replying to the show-cause notice, when he received the suspension letter. Under the party’s rules, he said, the members should be given seven days to respond to the show-cause notice, but his membership was suspended within 48 hours.
Mr Abbasi, the spouse of Naheed Khan, former political secretary to late PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, is among those senior party members who have been sidelined by the present party leadership for the past over two years.
Similarly, Ms Rehman who was once holding the information offices of both the party as well as the government has also been sidelined by the party leadership due to her decision to quit the federal cabinet during the lawyers’ movement for the reinstatement of the deposed judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, in March, last year.
Both Mr Abbasi and Ms Rehman claimed that they were members of the party’s CEC, but they were not aware as to when and where this decision of boycotting the TV channel had been taken.
Talking to Dawn, Ms Rehman said she had so far not seen the show-cause notice, but was in a shock that speaking on any channel could result in such demonstrations of violence outside an unguarded house.
“As it stands, I had no official communication from the party about any ban on any channel, because I had heard several different members speaking on all channels, but bizarrely, I am being targeted. In the absence of any communication, I followed the PM’s and the President’s announcements that we have no war with any media channel,” she added.
In reply to a question, she said: “I have been a senior office-bearer in this party and minister in this government, and have always acted responsibly on behalf of both. I have never spoken against my party despite whatever has been done, so will see what this show cause is about and certainly respond.
PROTEST DISOWNED: The general Secretary of the Karachi PPP’s women wing, MPA Shama Mittahi, and Shamim Mumtaz, information secretary, said the party had nothing to do with the protest against Sherry Rehman.
“Party workers have great respect for Ms Rehman as she has played a significant role in the struggle against the Musharraf regime, for restoration democracy and supremacy of the Constitution,” a statement said.