ISLAMABAD: Faced with the challenge of braving Taliban terrorism, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is ‘clutching at straws’ these days to save its rule in the province.
After the departure of 10 members of Aftab Sherpao-led Qaumi Watan Party, the PTI is striving to find a new partner in the province since its strength has reduced to 68 from 78 in the 124-member assembly. Though the party still enjoys majority in the House, with 68 members in hand where it needs 63 to be in the driving seat, it needs no ‘tsunami’ to send them packing, given, according to many, the party have miserably failed to deliver in last six months and public opinion is fast turning against it.
“Yes, we have rejected their offer to enter into an alliance in KP,” PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar told Daily Times, when contacted to confirm reports that PTI had contacted his party and offered it a ‘hand of friendship’. “We two have a worldview poles apart. How can we enter into a coalition with them,” he said. Farhatullah Babar said his party had given sacrifices in the fight against terrorism while the PTI was ‘defending’ the Taliban. “Our leader Benazir Bhutto gave her life for Pakistan. Who else has rendered sacrifices for this country more than us?” he asked, and added that they can’t sit with people who are protesting over the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud, who is responsible for the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians as well as army men in the country.
Though PTI confirmed ‘individual contacts’ between the two parties, but rejected reports of any formal offer extended to the PPP. “Some PPP MPAs have contacted Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, but we are not interested in any alliance with the PPP,” Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari told Daily Times. When asked if the MPs contacted the CM in their personal capacity or had the mandate of their party, Ms Mazari said she didn’t have any details. “Since the contact was made with the chief minister, he is in a better position to divulge upon the details,” Ms Mazari said, and added that his party is in no need for any partner in the province. “We have enough numbers to sustain our government. Why would we contact anyone when we don’t need anyone,” she said.
PTI last week abruptly announced to end its coalition with QWP, accusing its two ministers of being involved in corrupt practices, and the party failing to initiate action against them despite two warnings. The QWP has not only denied the allegations but also announced to ‘expose’ corruption ‘being patronised by PTI chief Imran Khan himself in the province’. The party is reportedly working on a ‘white paper’ against the PTI ministers, a report that has rung alarm bells within the PTI. The PTI chief has, reportedly, ordered an ‘internal scrutiny’ of its ministers so as to ‘purge’ the party of any black sheep and pre-empt any severe backlash from the political opponents in case QWP succeeds in unearthing any corruption scandal.
The number of combined opposition in the House has risen to 53 after the joining of 10 MPAs of the QWP. The PPP has four MPAs in KP Assembly, ANP has five while PML-N and JUI-F have 17 each. The opposition claims that they also have the backing of two independent MPAs too and thus count their number to 55. The province is also set to go through by-elections in two constituencies of Dera Ismail Khan and Haripur. PTI Law Minister Israrullah Gandapur was killed in a suicide attack in DI Khan while Communication and Works Minister Yousaf Ayub from Haripur was disqualified by the court for having a fake degree. If the result of by-election goes in favour of opposition parties, the number gap between government and the opposition will narrow down further and any slight push by PML-N and JUI-F can turn the tables on PTI, considering the fact that around half a dozen ‘disgruntled’ PTI members, according to sources, are already looking for an opportunity to desert.
The PML-N, the insiders say, wants the PTI to rule the province and get exposed. “Failing miserably to come up to the expectations of the people as per its tall promises, PTI will die its own death and would pose no serious threat to us in the next general election. Neither, we want to give them any opportunity to cash in on,” a source in the PML-N told Daily Times. However, Maulana Fazlur Rahman-led JUI-F is desperately searching for a ‘sound partner’ to bring a change in the province. In current scenario, fate of the PTI government in KP lies in the hands of the PML-N top leadership.
Source: Daily Times