Brother of senior PPP leader joins opposition PML-N

Lahore: The brother of a key Pakistani federal minister has joined the main opposition PML-N headed by Nawaz Sharif in the run-up to the next general election, giving a jolt to the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

Ahmed Saeed, the brother of Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, joined the PML-N yesterday after a meeting with Sharif.

Saeed was a close aide of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Mukhtar, a business tycoon, is considered to be close to President Asif Ali Zardari, who heads the ruling PPP.

Following his brother's decision to join the PML-N, there are now reports that Mukhtar too is seriously contemplating the option of quitting the PPP if Zardari does not award him a ticket to contest the next election from Gujrat in Punjab province.

Mukhtar was elected to Parliament in the 2008 polls from Gujrat, the traditional stronghold of PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

Some reports have suggested that Zardari may not put up a PPP candidate in Gujrat to oblige the PML-Q, which is now a key ally in the PPP-led ruling coalition.

Sources said Mukhtar had developed differences with the PPP leadership as he believes too much importance is being given to PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

On the other hand, the PML-N is banking on Saeed to counter the PML-Q leaders in Gujrat district.

Though Saeed contested polls only in 1977, it is believed he is the real political force and strategist behind the electoral successes of Mukhtar.

Saeed's entry into the PML-N is expected to serve as a morale booster for party activists in Gujrat, where it lacks a big name and a dependable candidate.

Senior PML-N leader Khwaja Asif said his party may be able to find a winning combination for Gujarat, where the PML-Q leaders have been holding sway, particularly after entering into an alliance with the PPP.

In the past, Saeed served as chairman of the state-run Pakistan International Airlines during the rule of Musharraf, who came to power after ousting Nawaz Sharif's government in a military coup in 1999.