From the looks of it, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is making a mess of it. A party that has come galloping to stake claim to the top elected slot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is found wanting on choosing a leader to lead it. And this is not a good beginning to begin with.

The internal squabbling between two groups, ostensibly between the old guard and the new, is puzzling. Pervez Khattak, the MPA-elect from Nowshera, and a so-called new entrant to PTI, was the first to launch his efforts to put together a coalition government and contacted heads of political parties and bunch of newly-elected independent members.

In come Mr Asad Qaisar, the MPA-elect from Swabi and the so-called old-guard, who together with a couple of other MPAs-elect launched his own efforts, contacting politicians and members.

If this was not enough, the two sides issued conflicting statements, discrediting each other and attributing those statements to the party chairman, Imran Khan. Who has the authority and the mandate to negotiate with the political parties on PTI’s behalf and who has given the mandate to do so is not known.

Not contended with this, someone within the PTI tried to pull a fast one, by “leaking” to the electronic media Asad Qaisar’s name as its nominee for KP’s chief minister. Later, a new spin was added to the puzzle: Khattak, it was said, was the parliamentary leader while Qaisar was the chief minister-in-waiting.

As this jockeying became a joke, talk of a new third person began to do the rounds in Peshawar – the former PML era-minister for food and former district nazim, Haripur, Yousaf Ayub as Imran’s possible choice for the chief minister. By his own admission, he is not part of the “lobbying game” and that he would abide by the party’s decision, whoever it chooses to lodge at the Chief Minister House in KP.

But even this did not put a stop to the rumour-feeding PTI mill which seems to be working overtime to churn one spin after another. The apparent jockeying for power between the party’s central secretary general and his provincial president became to vicious that some within the party ventured out to suggest who was had Khan’s pat on the back and who it was the cricketer-turned politician had no love lost for, in order to make the likely candidate for the chief minister obvious.

It became so confusing that political parties locked in negotiations with the PTI began to wonder whether their interlocutors from the major player in KP had the real mandate to speak to them and if that was the case, who was this other guy pretending to speaking to them on Khan’s behalf.

So much did the issue muddled up that some of the newly-elected members began to start day-dreaming, desire taking the better of discipline. What is wrong with having a chief minister from Peshawar?” a bewildered newly-elected member from Peshawar asked. “Peshawar has given ten of the eleven provincial seats and four national seats to PTI. Don’t you think Peshawar deserves to be given the rewarded for the remarkable feat?” one of them asked.

But if this was not enough, the dole-outs to junior coalition partners and the choice of portfolios promised to them also became the bone of contention. Did the package-deal have Khan’s support? There will be two senior ministers and one minister each from Jamaat-i-Islami and the Qaumi Watan Party, party leaders in Peshawar said.

But JI leader Prof Munawwar Hassan, who met with a recuperating Khan at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, announced afterwards that there would be three ministers each from JI and the QWP. JI, one PTI leader said, would get the finance, in addition to the all-too-important education. What has been agreed to the QWP, is not known, other than that in addition to berth in the cabinet, Sherpao’s party would also get the slot of the deputy speaker, provincial assembly. Knowing Sherpao’s political acumen, one could safely assume, he would not really settle for anything less important too.

What will be the PTI left with is not known. But as one official asked, if the PTI is genuinely representative of the youth, why would it give the future of our youth and the upcoming generation to a junior partner.


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