PESHAWAR, May 13: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, major political stakeholders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, stepped up their efforts on Monday to lure smaller groups for forming the next coalition government in the province.

Putting its act together, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf moved swiftly earlier in the day and established contacts with Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, former interior minister, and Sirajul Haq, Jamaat-i-Islami’s central leader and member of the provincial assembly elect, for exploring possibilities to cobble together the next coalition government.

“We are trying to complete our tally to form the next provincial government,” Asad Qaiser, PTI’s chief, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, told a hurriedly called press conference. He said PTI chief Imran Khan also phoned Mr Sherpao and spoke about entering into talks for government formulation.

With PTI’s 35 MPAs-elect, JI and QWP could provide the required number of members to form the next coalition government in the province. Both, JI and QWP have seven members each in the provincial assembly elect.

However, JUI-F is still putting a fight in its bids to turn table on PTI, the leading party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and form the next provincial government in aide from QWP, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and a 13-member strong group of independently elected MPAs-elect.

“They (PTI) don’t have experienced people and in situation that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is facing PTI cannot establish a strong and stable government,” Akram Khan Durrani, former chief minister and parliamentary leader of JUI-F, told Dawn when contacted on Monday.

JUI-F is not the only threat to PTI’s chances to form the next coalition government in the province. The party, according to sources, is also undergoing internal tensions because of tussle between two strong groups, eying at the chief minister’s slot. Mr Qaiser, PTI’s provincial head, is an aspirant in parallel to Pervez Khattak, MPA-elect and the central general secretary of the party.

“We will decide the issue (chief minister’s selection) when the time comes,” Mr. Qaiser said.

With PTI holding the decision back, JUI-F’s Mr Durrani said PTI did not have a single experienced leader (among its MPAs-elect in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) who enjoyed influence over ‘elements’ in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

His party, he added, had established contacts with QWP, PML-N, JI, and independent MPAs-elect, asking them to sit together and agree to the next coalition government in the province. JUI-F by virtue of its strength of 13 MPAs-elect is the second largest group in the new provincial assembly.

“I have asked all of them (their leaders) to swear on Quran to form the next coalition government for the sake of this province and the country and not for corruption or commission,” said Mr Durrani, who headed the provincial government from 2002 to 2008.

The last time he headed the provincial government in alliance with JI, the province saw a marked increase in the pro-militant elements’ influence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Malakand region, where Maulvi Fazalullah, alias Mullah Radio, outgrew his influence, using his private radio broadcast facility in Swat for propaganda against polio vaccination and girls’ education.

Mr Durrani said the next coalition government, if he managed to put together, was vital for saving Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which, he added, would safeguard Pakistan.

PTI, he said, did not have experience in governance as a result of which its leaders would not be able to run the province that was passing through the most delicate phase of its existence.

However, PTI’s provincial head Asad Qaiser sounded confident vis-à-vis his party’s chances to form the next coalition government in the province, saying it had mustered the support of the required number of MPAs-elect to form the next government.

On his part, Sikandar Sherpao, MPA-elect and the provincial head of QWP, told journalists that his party was weighing its options as far as extending supporting to either of the two major stakeholders was concerned.

After his party’s meeting with PTI’s Asad Qaiser, the younger Sherpao said that QWP’s parliamentary group would meet at Peshawar on Tuesday to discuss the option of joining PTI. He, however, restrained to come up with a clear answer about accepting or rejecting the PTI offer. “We will be able to say anything about it after Tuesday’s meeting,” said Mr Sherpao.

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