Lahore: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi has suffered a setback as his brother has quit the party and joined the ruling Pakistan People's Party ahead of a crucial bye-election in Punjab province.
Qureshi had quit the PPP and joined cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's party last year due to differences with PPP chief and President Asif Ali Zardari.
Qureshi is currently vice-chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.
Makhdoom Mureed Hussain Qureshi parted ways with the Tehrik-e-Insaf after developing differences with his elder brother, former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
He also believed that the Tehrik-e-Insaf would not be able to meet his expectations, sources said.
Like his elder brother, Mureed contested elections in 2008 on a PPP ticket. He contested polls to the Punjab Assembly from a constituency in Khanewal district.
The assembly seat was vacated by Qureshi after he was elected to parliament but Mureed lost to an independent candidate. Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan had reportedly not given Mureed an assurance that he would be given a ticket to contest from the same assembly seat in the next election.
Taking advantage of the differences between Mureed and Qureshi, the PPP's top leadership managed to bring Mureed back to the party's fold.
Reports have said both Zardari and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani took the initiative to convince Mureed to join the PPP. Gilani assured Mureed that he would be given a PPP ticket for the next polls and facilitated in contesting elections from Khanewal.
Asked about his brother's decision to join the PPP, Qureshi told PTI: "I have no differences with my brother. He is an adult and makes his own decisions. It is his democratic right to join any party."
Qureshi, the vice-chairman of the Tehrik-e-Insaf, dismissed the impression that there were internal rifts in the party.
He said: "There has been no rift but (there are) differences of opinion. Everyone in the party has the right to differ. Besides, government agencies are spreading propaganda in this regard."
Criticising the top leadership of the PPP, he said: "A man sitting in Islamabad (Zardari) is obsessed with me as he wants to make life difficult for me."
The Tehrik-e-Insaf is determined to fight the "old feudal system", he added.
However, sources said former parliamentary Speaker Amir Hussain too was mulling the option of leaving the Tehrik-e-Insaf and returning to the PML-Q because of differences with the top leadership.
There are also differences between the main leaders of the Tehrik-e-Insaf, including Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Khurshid Mahmood Qasuri and Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali, sources said.
A PPP leader, who did not want to be named, said Gilani has been active in campaigning for a bye-election in Multan to ensure the victory of his son Abdul Qadir Gilani.
The seat in Multan fell vacant after Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court following his conviction of contempt.
"After PML-N leader Ishaq Bucha joining the PPP and withdrew from the bye-election in favour of Abdul Qadir Gilani, winning the support of Mureed Hussain Qureshi has come as a big boost for the PPP, especially the Gilani family," the PPP leader said.
"Now thanks to the smart politics of Gilani, Shah Mahmood Qureshi or his son will have to contest against Mureed in the next general election," the leader added. After Qureshi quit the PPP and resigned from parliament, his seat was won in a bye-election by Gilani's younger son Ali Musa Gilani.