LAHORE -  With the approaching general elections next year, a number of political players have begun to change loyalties and enter into new arrangements.

They are joining parties they believe would provide them a better political standing and help reach assemblies, disregarding the ideology they originally held, or showed attachment to, in the political arena.

Some leaders have changed loyalties so many times that no party is left for them to join now.

The spate of turning coat had taken up enormous pace in the mainstream political parties, PML-N and the PTI, before the 2013 general elections.

The PML-N had pledged with the PPP through the Charter of Democracy in May 2006, to not accept the turncoats in their respective party.

Also, before the polls, the Nawaz League leadership made strong commitment not to allow entry to those politicians who had served in the government under Pervez Musharraf.

But later this party readily accepted politicians who had been very much part of the PML-Q government during Pervez era.

Eminent among them were Marvi Memon, Zahid Hamid, Danyal Aziz, Talal Ch, Ameer Muqam, Ata Maneka, Tariq Azeem, General Abdul Qayyum, Mian Riaz Hussain Peerzada, Murtaza Jatoi, Awais Ahmad Leghari, Jamal Ahmad Leghari and Sumera Malik.

Some others, like Liaqat Ali Jatoi, Mumtaz Bhutto and Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim from Sindh, had quasi association with PML-N, but they parted ways on getting a cold shoulder after the election.

Interestingly, the PML-N also graced some turncoats with high offices in the government departments, foreign missions and the Cabinet, at the cost of serious reservations by a section within the party.

Some of the turncoats in the PML-N are still trying to come to the limelight and secure lucrative portfolios while some others are disenchanted and they are in a rebellion mode.

As to the PTI, many joined this emerging party - including PPP stalwart Shah Mahmood Qureshi - but many of them feel uncomfortable mainly because this party, having government in KP only, has little to offer them.

Some former PML-Q bigwigs who joined PTI, like Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri and Mian Azhar, are relatively complaisant as have not been much active in the party. However, their utility as politician cannot be undermined.

PTI recently ventured to take former Sindh CM and ZA Bhutto’s cousin, Mumtaz Bhutto, to its folds but he refused - though he expressed willingness to align with the PTI against PML-N in Sindh.

In the recent past two seasoned politicians, Ghulam Mustafa Khar and Liaqat Ali Jatoi, have joined the PTI endorsing rating of this party as first choice for any disgruntled of others.

Khar is an octogenarian who had been Punjab governor and chief minister, while Jatoi also is a former Sindh chief minister. And, they both remain big names in the politics of their provinces.

Liaqat Jatoi at a big rally of the PTI in Dadu, a political stronghold of the PPP, announced merger of his party, Sindh Awami Ittehad, in the Tehrik in presence of Imran Khan.

Few days later, Mustafa Khar in a meeting with Imran announced his joining the PTI.

Both the leaders got disillusioned from the mainstream parties in their own way.

Khar, a discreet and sensible politician from Muzaffargarh, had been sitting on the fence over last many years during the course of which reports emerged in the media about his joining the PML-N after he met top leadership of the party. But it did not happen although he shared many commonalities with this party on political side, particularly about their outlook towards the PPP under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari.

Mustafa Khar has been a staunch supporter of the ideology of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after he was placed among the pioneer group of the PPP. He enjoyed the office of chief minister and the governor at different times during the Bhutto government.

Khar’s raising voice for due rights of the province was not taken in good taste by Bhutto, who deemed it his ambitions to excel politically. So, he was dismissed as governor after a brief stay in this office in July 1975.

Subsequently, he leaned to join the PML-F under Pir Pagara but his love for the PPP could not be taken out. He spent 11 years in self-exile during the martial law of General Ziaul Haq. Zia regime had also awarded him 14 years of jail in absentia for conspiring against his rule, and on return in 1988, he was arrested and later released thanks to efforts and protest put up by his spouse and supporters.

Khar’s political career afterwards was eclipsed by many factors as he wanted to rejoin the PPP with due reward and position which however was not acceptable to the Benazir Bhutto-led PPP. On it, Khar constituted his own party, National Peoples Party and got elected to the National Assembly in election 1988. After dismissal of Benazir government in 1990, Khar was appointed caretaker minister and in the election 1993, he could not enter electoral arena as his party was no more valid under law. After he made another abortive bid to join the PPP. Now he is minded to stick to his current decision of remaining a part of the PTI till his last.

Liaqat Ali Jatao has mainly been relating to the PML-Q under Pervez Musharraf although he had won the election 1977 as PPP candidate. He was minister of the PML-Q government during the Musharraf era although previously he had served Majlise Shoora of Ziaul Haq from 1980 to 81 and entering alliance with the PML-N served as chief minister of Sindh from 1997 to 1998 till Governor’s Rule was imposed in this province. In the year 2011, after the meeting with PPP Faryal Talpur, rumours got the airs about his joining the PPP but he strongly refuted the reports. Now he also wants to stand resolute on his decision of joining the PTI.