Driven by self-interests and political convenience rather than any principles, values, and ideology, politicians (political leaders) in Pakistan change party colours faster than the chameleons.
With the next general elections on the horizon, the year 2017 saw political leaders moving back and forth in search of greener pastures.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) welcomed the most of estranged members of other political parties.
Whereas, Pakistan Peoples Party and Dr Farooq Sattar-led Muttahida Quami Movement’s Pakistan faction saw many of their members waving them goodbye.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and other political factions didn’t, however, see any of their prominent leaders switching sides in 2017.
Here is a list of political leaders who switched sides this year
Naz Baloch: The PPP grabbed an important wicket of the PTI this year. The PTI leader from Karachi and a social media activist, Naz Baloch, parted ways with the Imran Khan-led party and joined the PPP.
This defection had come on the heels of a dissident member of the party, Ayesha Gulalai, accusing Khan of sending her inappropriate text messages and harassing her and other female members of the party.
Ms Baloch, however, deserted the party with which she started her career citing different reasons.
Accusing Imran Khan of ignoring the youth and inducting turncoats, familiarly known as “Lotas”, into his party, she said the party has deviated from its manifesto and sidelined the youth who were the face of the PTI slogan of change.
Nabil Gabool: After parting ways with the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), former MNA from Lyari in Karachi Sardar Nabil Gabol rejoined his previous party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) this year.
The former parliamentarian had won a seat in the 2013 General Elections from MQM’s strong-hold, Azizabad (NA-246) constituency.
After he developed differences with the party, Gabol resigned and left the party in February 2015. In the last PPP government, he became federal minister for ports and shipping.
Firdous Ashiq Awan: Former federal minister and PPP stalwart Firdous Ashiq Awan ended her association with the PPP and joined the PTI.
The former MNA was associated with PML-Q before she joined the PPP and was elected an MNA on its ticket in the general elections of 2002.
Awan had met slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in London and subsequently announced to join the PPP before the general elections of 2008.
Under the PPP government, Awan first held portfolio of population welfare and then became an information minister
Babar Awan: Another PPP leader joined the PTI, dealing a blow to the Asif Zardai-led party. Former Senator Babar Awan ended his 21-year long association with the PPP and resigned from the membership of the Senate this year.
Nazar Muhammad Gondal: A week after Firdous Ashiq Awan deserted the PPP, PPP stalwart from central Punjab and former federal minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal dropped a bombshell on the party when he joined the PTI.
Imtiaz Safdar Warraich: Former federal minister and PPP Punjab president Imtiaz Safdar Warraich also joined the PTI in 2017.
Warraich, who served as minister of state for communication in the PPP last government, become dejected when he was removed from the post of the president of the party’s central Punjab chapter and decided to switch sides.
Nadir Akmal Leghari: Former PTI Sindh chapter president Nadir Akmal Leghari jumped onto the PPP’s ship earlier this year.
Leghari joined the PTI in 2010, and was elected the president of PTI Sindh chapter in March 2013.
Previously, he was associated with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and remained provincial minister for irrigation during the party’s stint in power from 2002 till 2007.
He lost his seat in Sindh Assembly from Ghotki to the PPP’s Sardar Ahmed Pitafi in the 2008 general elections and did not contest the 2013 elections.
Liaqat Ali Jatoi: Former Sindh chief minister and PML-N leader Liaquat Ali Jatoi joined the PTI after a formal meeting with PTI chief Imran Khan in April this year.
Jatoi had resigned from the basic membership of the PML-N in January 2014. The senior politician had previously served as the chief minister of Sindh in 1997.
Mumtaz Bhutto: Led by Former Sindh governor Mumtaz Bhutto the Sindh National Front (SNF) was merged with the PTI this year.
Former Sindh governor, a first cousin of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had recently ditched the PML-N for “failing to take interest in the issues the people of Sindh province are facing”. He had merged the party with the PML-N before the 2013 general elections.
Ameer Bux Bhutto – son of Mumtaz Bhutto – had announced the merger at a press conference alongside PTI vice president Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
MQM-P defections: The year saw Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM-P losing its assembly members to the Mustafa Kamal-led PSP.
Among the prominent leaders who defected from the MQM faction headed by Dr Farooq Sattar was Karachi’s Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra.
While announcing his quitting the party, Vohra had claimed his former party had no vision and that it had failed to meet its promises to the people of the city.
Javed Hashmi sets off rumour mills
Lately, it was widely rumoured that former PTI president and veteran politician Javed Hashmi is likely to re-join the PML-N after his meeting with its president Nawaz Sharif in a day or two.
However, he didn’t make any such announcement after meeting with the senior leadership of the ruling party including Sharif at the Punjab House, laying the rumour mills to rest.
Hashmi had previously worked as the vice president of the ruling PML-N and was its face in its testing times after Musharraf’s military takeover. However, later he waived it goodbye to join the Imran Khan-led PTI.
He also deserted Khan after developing serious differences with him over the party’s sit-in in the capital over alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections.
Hashmi had accused Khan of pursuing a plan allegedly scripted by the security establishment to overthrow the Sharif’s government.
Javed Hashmi had joined the PTI on December 24, 2011 and was elected to the post of central president in March 2013.