Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri a former provincial law maker, provincial minister, spokesman and general secretary of PML-N Punjab and remained loyal with the party for nearly two decades. His announcement to quit the party and to contest the elections as an independent candidate surprised many.
He stood with the party in testing times during General Musharaf’s regime. He was offered political office and position by the regime to change his loyalty. But he refused to quit PML-N and joined PML-Q. He spent six months in the prison and many fabricated criminal cases against him were registered. He stood with the party when most big names of the PML-N quit the party and joined PML-Q.
He was elected to the Punjab provincial assembly in 2008 and 2013 from PP-154. He served as the provincial minister, special assistant to chief minister Shahbaz Sharif. His wife Uzma Qadri also elected to the Punjab assembly on reserved seat for women in 2008 and 2013. The PML-N once again awarded party ticket to both Zaeem and his wife Uzma for 2018 general elections.
But he wanted to contest the election for the national assembly seat from NA-133 when the party leadership refused to award ticket to him; he rebelled against the party and announced to contest election as an independent candidate. He levelled serious charges against Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz.
The issue of national assembly ticket is not the only reason of his rebellion. He is also facing NAB inquiries and investigations along with other members of his family. He himself, his wife and other members of the family remained part of different companies established by the Punjab government and now being investigated by the NAB authorities. He was under immense pressure from these inquiries and investigations.
The other issue is that Zaeem Qadri made negative remarks about the leadership which was conveyed to them and they started giving cold shoulder to him. He remained close to the PML-N leadership and enjoyed his time in the government. He is complaining that leadership hasn’t acknowledged and rewarded his commitment and sacrifices for the party in difficult times. On the other hand, leadership is the view that his services, sacrifices and commitment were acknowledged and recognised as he was given important portfolios including ministry.
NAB investigations and negative remarks made against leadership spoiled the relationship between Zaeem Qadri and PML-N leadership. He also developed serious differences with sitting MNA from his constituency. Former MNA Waheed Alam Khan won the election from NA-127 with a huge margin in 2013. Zaeem Qadri contested from a provincial constituency falls under this national assembly constituency. The interesting fact is that both candidates are outsiders as both are not living in this constituency.
He is blaming Waheed Alam Khan as outsider and alien for constituency who again wants to contest from here. The local leaders of PML-N continue to use this argument against Zaeem Qadri as being alien and an outsider. He faced lot of resistance and opposition from local PML-N leaders for given party ticket to him in the last election.
Some PML-N leaders are accusing him for being in touch with Chaudhry Nisar. The accusation and counter accusations are part our decaying political culture. Zaeem Qadri is a genuine right wing political worker whose family is affiliated with Muslim League for three generations. Both his father and mother were affiliated with PML and were office bearers of the party.
The Zaeem episode once again exposed the true nature of political parties. There is no internal democracy in the mainstream parties and dissent considered as enmity. Zaeem Qadri rendered his services for the party for nearly two decades. He must have been treated with respect and honour even when he developed differences with the leadership. The political workers make sacrifices, suffered and face hardships for the leadership in difficult times but they want respect, honour and dignity as the reward.
The political leadership should learn to tolerate the dissenting views within the party. They should respect the differences and opposite views as genuine expression of their political activists and leaders. We need to learn to respect each other’s views and opinions even when we disagree. The differences and disagreements are part of political process and culture and it must be respected.
Khalid Bhatti ACE News Election Cell