ISLAMABAD - Once omnipresent and always eager to appear before the media, a number of PPP co-chairman’s close aides who were also part of the federal cabinet have simply gone missing from the scene in the wake of Asif Ali Zardari’s outburst against military establishment.

Well placed sources in the PPP told The Nation on Thursday that a few leaders were even asked to appear in the media and defend the party but they opted to stay away.

Qamar Zaman Kaira and Sherry Rehman have been clarifying Zardari’s speech while his two advisors, Nadeem Afzal Chan and Noor Alam Khan, have been seen on television shows defending their party.

It is believed that the major beneficiaries of the PPP government from 2008-2013 have now gone into hibernation when the party needs them the most. A few of them attend party functions occasionally just to make their presence felt in a selected circle and others have almost dissociated themselves from the party.

The sources said that former Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme Farzana Raja was no more attending PPP’s functions after the 2013 elections while Asif Ali Zardari was still in the presidency.

“Farzana Raja was hopeful that PM Sharif will continue with her as Chairperson BISP but when it did not happen she left for America never to return”, the sources in PPP maintained.

Former defense minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar also did not attend any party meeting after losing election. Political secretary to party Co-chairman Rukhsana Bangash and in-charge of PPP central secretariat had also left for USA, very next day of Zardari’s speech last week, the sources added.

Former information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan was ready to jump off the ship of PPP even before the election but the other parties were reluctant to take her. She makes occasional appearances in the party functions and is missing after Zardari’s speech to defend the party, which she has been defending as information minister

Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar is also missing since 2013 election and she has hardly made any appearance anywhere on behalf of the party.

Former minister and PPP’s Punjab President Mian Manzoor Wattoo hesitates to make media appearances. “Manzoor Wattoo was even asked by Asif Zardari as to why he does not appear on television?” the sources in PPP added.

The sources said that Makhdoom Amin Fahim is abroad for treatment. Naveed Qamar hardly makes any appearance on TV. The Arbab couple from Peshawar remained upset with the party since election 2013, the sources revealed.

They added that the Arbab couple has now launched their son in politics. Hamid Saeed Kazmi made an appearance in a function but he was mistreated during PPP tenure what to expect from him to defend the party in these times, the sources said.

The sources said that Zardari has re-established his contact with Babar Awan after a lapse for three years which has been taken in bad taste by the party leadership and workers.

Dr Asim Hussain doesn’t appear on media. Farooq Naek and Rehman Malik are with the party but now they do not appear regularly on media. The sources added that during the Central Executive Party meeting ex-PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf only spoke about Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks saying that these were uncalled for. “During the entire episode Chairman Bilawal only spoke for a few minutes that too in the CEC meeting.

Even Bilawal was offered to choose his own team but Bilawal opted to keep mum. The sources said that the allegations on PPP are of corruption while the military has established its repute as the one who is hunting the corrupt and trouble makers and in this scenario where the public perception is against the PPP, defending corruption allegations is the most difficult job.

Talking to The Nation, media advisor to PPP Punjab President said that Manzoor Wattoo had issued a statement few days ago and appreciated the efforts of Pakistan army against terrorism and role of Army Chief General Raheel Sharif. He said, Wattoo had attended the meeting of CEC but could not participate in Zardari’s Iftar dinner because he had to go to Sialkot for offering Fataha over death of Fardous Aashaq Awan’s close relative.

He was not sure whether Wattoo had appeared before media after Zardari’s speech. Wattoo is following the lines of party Chairman and Co-chairman and he stands the party policy, he added.

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