ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has warned sluggish leaders of the to wake up or face the axe – particularly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, political sources said yesterday.

Bilawal was in Islamabad and Rawalpindi last week holding meetings with party leaders and activists. He also visited the Parliament House for a dinner hosted by Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani and opposition leader in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan.

The young PPP leader, who is set to contest the 2018 polls as the party’s candidate for the prime minister’s slot, said the parliament’s role is needed to be more vibrant.

He said the parliament should assert and reaffirm its supremacy to root out terrorism and resolve people’s problems.

Bilawal has been a strong advocate of replacing older office bearers with young ones who can revive the party in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the party did badly in the 2013 general polls and the recent Local Governments elections.

There were rumours of the change in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could be visible even before the LG polls but Bilawal delayed the process for the sake of the continuity.

Punjab PPP President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo has already resigned but the party did not announce the acceptance of his resignation or otherwise.

However, the PPP leaders believe several names – led by Qamar Zaman Kaira – were being considered for the top slot in Punjab. Sources said Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat, a former PPP stalwart, may rejoin the parent party and become its Punjab President. There was no confirmation from the party but nobody ruled out the possibility.

Hayat was elected as Member of National Assembly in 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2002 and 2008. In 2002 he was elected on PPP ticket, later forming PPP-Patriots and joining the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam).

He served as Federal Minister in numerous Ministries which includes Commerce, Environment, Housing and Works, Interior and Kashmir Affairs.

In comparison Kaira has remained loyal to the PPP and was a minister in the last government led by the party. He also performed well in the LG polls leading the PPP to win 13 seats in Lalamusa when the party performed poorly in other parts of Punjab.

A senior PPP leader said Bilawal was not a supporter of taking back politicians who left the party in difficult times but his father Asif Ali Zardari was more flexible.

“A warning has been issued to the poor performers. They have been asked to mend ways or face the axe,” he told The Nation.

The PPP leader said Bilawal wanted to meet all the dissidents before announcing changes in the party set-up – especially in Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Bilawal hopes to bring PPP loyalists to the top but may accept some recommendations by his father,” he added.

About the PPP leaders deemed sluggish by Bilawal, he said, “They are very obvious. Majority of them have not performed well.”

He said if Bilawal accepted some former PPP men in the party, he will not be inclined to give them key roles. Another PPP leader said Bilawal might also want a young man at the top in Sindh for the 2018 polls. “He respects Qaim Ali Shah but believes a young man was needed while he (Shah) can remain a mentor for many,” he maintained.

Asked if Shah will also be removed as Sindh PPP President, he said, “I can’t say right now but it is a possibility for the 2018 polls. But in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, major changes are in the offing.”

Earlier, Bilawal had said one has to render sacrifices in order to bring a change. In response to Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s slogan of change, the PPP chief reminded that to bring a change, sloganeering was not enough.