RAWALPINDI – Former federal minister and Senior Vice President of PML-Q Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has resigned from his party and announced his new political party “Awami Muslim League”.
He also announced to withdraw his nomination papers for NA-55 by-elections, saying, “I will not contest by-elections in the wake of worsening political situation in the country.”
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was once called “Farzand-e-Rawalpindi” and the backbone of PML-Q, announced this during a Press conference at his Lal Haveli here on Sunday.
Sheikh Rashid believed that many people would join his AML in the days to come, as it would be the party of the poor, depressed people and the working class.
“AML has not been brought into existence to contest elections or to bring revolution,” he added.
“We carried out a number of development works for our city, but the Pindiites did not reciprocate in general elections, 2008,” he said. He said that election was contested in the constituency on the slogan of Lal Haveli versus Lal Masjid, but he showed positive response to peoples’ verdict,” Sh Rashid added.
He further said that PML-N had bagged votes on the slogan of reinstating deposed judges, whereas PPP fought the election on the slogan of “Roti, Kapra aur Makaan” but both have failed to deliver.
“Coalition government has no proper pitch (roadmap), so it cannot play a long innings,” said Sheikh Rashid. He said that President Pervez Musharraf was not a hurdle in their way of serving the masses.
The former PML-Q stalwart said that he had predicted a 90-day life of coalition government of the PPP and PML-N, but it had collapsed just in 45 days.
Rashid predicted a change in coalition government’s set-up from top to bottom in coming days, saying, “every thing will be changed”. He said he wished the government to complete its tenure.
Commenting on abolishment of Kala Bagh Dam, Sheikh Rashid said that in past both, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto defended the KBD project but present government had shelved this mammoth project through a light stroke of pen, and added that the nation would have to pay a heavy price of it.
He further said that PPP would never reinstate the deposed judges and set Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan free.
The government should give relief, as it has pledged, to the downtrodden masses and not make mockery of their poverty by throwing them into the crises of inflation and unemployment.
He said that poverty had adversely hit the masses, as they did not had the money to meet the basic needs of daily life, including house-rent, money to buy medicine and children school fee.
Instead of record production and procurement of wheat across the country, 20 kg flour bag was being sold at Rs 500 and the red chilly at Rs 250 per kg, he held.
“People are committing suicides. The bank balance of elite class is touching on the rise, while, a common man finds it hard to make both ends meet. The stock exchange has met severe blow, and the condition of our economy is declining every passing day” claimed Sheikh Rashid.
On NRO, he said that all cases have been settled under this agreement, adding that the people were being made fool.
He vowed that both PPP and PML-N would conduct postmortem of each other once President Musharraf resigns from his office.
Rashid further said that he would continue to support the President from the platform of AML. He said that it had proved that both PPP and PML-N, despite getting heavy mandate in general elections, have failed to serve masses due to lack of leadership and political wisdom.
Sheikh Rashid, on the occasion, announced that Syeda Naseem Ali would be the AML candidate the forthcoming by-elections for NA-55 and he would support her.
“This time I am not contesting by-elections but I will contest next general elections”, he said.
He said that after withdrawal of Barrister Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, the people of Rawalpindi were not taking interest in by-elections and added that his constituency, NA-55, gained worldwide media coverage after his defeat.
He said that coalition of PPP and AML was out of question till next three or four months.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, responding to another question, said “he will watch the lawyers’ long march on TV screen on June 10”
While commenting on the formation of AML, different local leaders hailing from different political parties have expressed their views.
PML-N MNA Muhammad Hanif Abbassi said after loosing February 18 general elections in such a bad way Rashid had no right to do more politics. He said the media should ignore him just like the people of Rawalpindi had rejected him on February 18. Abbassi said that Rashid couldn’t win even the seat of a councillor form any part of Rawalpindi.
The PPP senior leader and old rival of Rashid, Agha Riazul Islam, said that a young boy Raja Qasim Ikhlas who was contesting his maiden election got 73,000 votes while Sheikh, the political Guru, could bag only 9,000 votes from his hometown. “In fact Rashid has no other option to gain the attention of media so he created the drama of AML,” he added. He further said that a horse cart could easily carry six passengers but the AML doesn’t have the capacity of even six members.
Former provincial law and development minister Muhammad Bisharat Raja said that anyone had the right to form his political party and Rashid intended to form a party much earlier. He said political workers often left and joined different parties and it made no difference in PML-Q’s activities. “We wish him best of luck,” Raja concluded.
The PPP leader Malik Aamir Fida Paracha said that AML would meet soon the consequences, adding, “I suggest Rashid to open a ‘Tota Fall’ (parrot fortune telling) outside Lal Haveli.
Source: The Nation, 2/6/2008