ISLAMABAD: In a bitter row within the Pakistan People's Party over awarding party tickets for reserved women's seats, Nahid Khan, the political secretary to Benazir Bhutto, has withdrawn her nomination papers in protest over the awarding of a PPP ticket to Farahnaz Ispahani.
According to party sources, Nahid Khan was not happy with the award of the party ticket to Farahnaz Ispahani, the wife of Hussain Haqqani, and has informed Benazir Bhutto about withdrawing her nomination papers saying she cannot sit in the National Assembly with Ms Ispahani. Naheed Khan was nominated for a reserved seat from the Punjab while Farahnaz Ispahani was nominated from Sindh. Prior to marrying Farahnaz Ispahani, Hussain Haqqani was married to Naheed Khan's sister. That could be the reason why Ms Khan did not want to sit with Ms Ispahani in the National Assembly. The News tried to contact Nahid Khan for comments but failed to reach her,as there was no response from her cell phone. However, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar confirmed that Nahid Khan has withdrawn her nomination papers for the National Assembly seat. "When I asked her about it she told me that she has a lot of party work and cannot do justice to parliamentary work so it is better to work for the party," he said, quoting Nahid Khan.
Babar said, "Nahid Khan also told me that the withdrawal of her nomination papers did not mean that she has any complaint against the PPP and that she remained committed to Benazir Bhutto and the party." Babar maintained that Nahid Khan is 100 per cent committed to the party and to Benazir Bhutto. "She not only accompanied BB to Quetta on Saturday but has also proceeded to Karachi along with her. We all are at Bilawal House and there is no question of differences or protest on her part," he responded. Farhatullah Babar further said that Nahid Khan would continue to be with Benazir Bhutto during her election campaign and other engagements in Pakistan. "Nahid told me that she would not be able to discharge responsibilities as BB's political secretary while being member of the National Assembly." But PPP insiders were positive that Naheed Khan's decision was an expression of her displeasure over awarding the PPP ticket to Farah Ispahani. Moreover, she was also believed to be unhappy at reports in the top PPP circles that Hussain Haqqani himself was going to become a senator on a PPP ticket at the first available opportunity. Analysts in Islamabad say Nahid Khan's refusal to be a member of the NA was probably the first sign that she was losing her formidable clout with Benazir Bhutto. Her husband, Senator Safdar Abbasi is, however, one of the closest advisers to the PPP Chairperson. They say if Naheed Khan has actually opted out of politics because of Mr Haqqani, then it would be a political rebuff to Benazir from one of the closest people around her after recent shocks from many others.
Seen in the context of some diehard PPP leaders and supporters breaking ranks with Benazir, it would put the chairperson in an awkward situation. After the shocking decisions of former interior minister General Naseerullah Babar not to accept a PPP ticket, defiance shown by the popular Atizaz Ahsan to withdraw his nomination papers, the recent open letters by former spymaster Masood Sharif, Naheed Khan's decision would be another road bump. Ms Nahid Khan's decision will be welcomed by many PPP leaders and workers as she was considered by some to be the ultimate human barrier between them and Benazir Bhutto. Her decision was a shock for many. Even Farhatullah Babar, supposed to be the most informed man in the PPP, was not initially aware of it when he was contacted.