LAHORE - In a bid to galvanise the party in Punjab, PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has nominated former Punjab Governor Makhdum Ahmad Mehmud as president of party’s south Punjab organisation.

He has replaced Makhdum Shahabuddin who was inactive in the party for the last over three years apparently due to health reasons. Both Makhdums, the incoming and the outgoing, belong to Rahim Yar Khan district of south Punjab.

This much awaited change of leadership in the southern belt did not come as a surprise for the party men as a series of discussions within the party had already taken place on the issue. Party sources have also predicted a similar change in party’s central Punjab organisation in the coming April.

Makhdum Ahmad, who resigned as provincial head of PML-F months before 2013 general elections, joined the PPP to become governor of the biggest province after Sardar Latif Ahmad Khan Khosa was asked to resign as a result of a political deal struck between Makhdum Ahmad and Asif Ali Zardari. Makhdum’s two sons who later made it to the National Assembly also joined the PPP.

The new president is going to unveil his plan to reorganise the party in the next couple of days. PPP’s southern Punjab secretary information Shaukat Basra told this scribe that Makhdum Ahmad was planning to bring about radical changes at the grassroots level. “He has already submitted his plan with PPP co-chairman to reorganise the party at the union council level,” Basra added.      

Talking to The Nation, Makhdum Ahmad Mahmud also confirmed that he had a plan of action to be implemented in the near future.

“I would make my plan public at a news conference on Tuesday (tomorrow),” he told this scribe on telephone.

The outgoing south Punjab president Makhdum Shahabuddin who also served as federal minister for health during PPP’s last regime, told The Nation that he himself offered his resignation to the party co-chairman owing to health problems. “I had my spinal cord surgery a few months back and was told by doctors to have complete rest for smooth recovery of the ailment.” he said, adding he also wanted Ahmad Mehmud to lead the party.  

Party sources, however, believe that elder Makhdum was asked to resign by party co-chairman as he wanted some vibrant leader to reinvigorate the party in the southern Punjab.  

It merits mentioning here that outing southern Punjab president Shahabuddin was also nominated as prime minister after disqualification of Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2012 but his alleged involvement in ephedrine case prevented his candidature for the top position.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the new president is going to make changes in party’s south Punjab organisation in the days to come. The slot of general secretary which fell vacant due to defection of Amir Dogar would also be filled with some suitable person from the southern region. Dr Javid Siddiqui from Multan is currently holding this position on ad-hoc basis

As per sources, the names of Habibullah Shakir, an ex-judge of Lahore High Court, Moazzam Jatoi, an ex-state minister, Mahmud Hayat Tochi, a two-time MNA from Vehari and Shaukat Basra, an ex-MPA from Bahawalnagar are under consideration for the slot of general secretary. Moazzam Jatoi is nephew of former federal minister Qayyum Jatoi from Muzaffargarh district while Shakir belongs to Multan.