PESHAWAR, Nov 13: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan ended his party’s alliance with the Qaumi Watan Party after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak ‘dismissed’ two QWP ministers on Wednesday on corruption charges.
“PTI chairman Imran Khan today issued a strong advisory to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM to pull out of the coalition with the QWP,” a press release issued by PTI’s central media cell said. “Today, two of their ministers were dismissed by the CM,” it added.
In a rejoinder, QWP leaders said their provincial chief, Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, would present at a press conference on Thursday documentary evidence about PTI ministers’ “misdeeds and corruption”.
“Sherpao will divulge details of how the CM got 165 persons appointed in the Workers Welfare Board and how Imran Khan requested him to transfer an engineer to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hydel Development Organisation,” a QWP spokesman said.
The two QWP ministers expelled from the provincial cabinet were Bakht Baidar and Ibrar Hussain. The former held the ministry of industries, commerce and labour, while the latter was the environment minister.
The QWP was the first among the smaller parliamentary groups in the provincial assembly that had consented, after being contacted by Mr Khattak, to support his party in forming the coalition government after it emerged as the largest party in the province. By virtue of Mr Khan’s decision, it also happens to be the first party that has been shown the door by the PTI.
The PTI press release did not mention the details of corruption on the basis of which the action had been taken against the ministers.
QWP spokesman Tariq Khan termed the move ‘politically motivated’ and without justification.
He said the QWP had taken an independent course on the question of disrupting Nato supplies, going against the PTI’s ‘extreme and extra-constitutional move’.
“You just can’t take action against somebody by levelling verbal accusations. We have never been provided any concrete evidence against any of our representatives in the provincial cabinet,” he said.
Had they shared documentary evidence with the QWP leaders, the party would have taken stern action against them, he said.
However, according to the PTI: “Mr Khan said the QWP was given two warnings about the corruption of two of their ministers, but this party chose to tolerate corruption and instead showed its displeasure at the corruption being pointed out by boycotting provincial cabinet meetings.”
Talking to Dawn, Ibrar Hussain said they had never been informed about the charges against him or his other colleague.
“We held a meeting with Sikandar Sherpao after electronic media reported our expulsion, following which we contacted the CM who denied that he had issued the notification,” Mr Hussain said.
Peshawar experienced a political drama during which PTI’s local leaders appeared elusive and QWP leaders adamant to confirm the expulsion of their ministers.
“I am not authorised to speak on this matter,” the chief minister’s spokesman Shiraz Paracha said.
The dust cleared only after the PTI media cell issued the party chief’s press release announcing the end of the alliance with the QWP. The Qaumi Watan Party has a 10-member parliamentary group in the provincial assembly.
NUMBERS GAME: The move will result in the coalition’s numerical strength going down to 68 members in the house of 124. Among the coalition partners, the PTI has 53 members in the assembly, Jamaat-i-Islami eight, Awami Jamhuri Ittehad Pakistan five, while two independent MPAs are supporting the government.
“We are quite comfortable even after QWP’s departure,” a PTI leader said.
He denied that any provincial minister belonging to his party was involved in corruption.
Action against some ministers was being anticipated for the past few days. The PTI chief had said at a press conference in Nowshera last week that action would be taken against ministers found involved in corruption.
He had given an impression that no one would be spared if found guilty, whether he belonged to the PTI or a coalition partner.
However, the QWP spokesman said the PTI had committed ‘dishonesty’ by not taking action against some of its ‘known corrupt’ members in the provincial cabinet.
QWP HITS BACK: Accusing the PTI of being insincere, the QWP’s provincial chairman, Sikandar Sherpao, stepped down in the evening as senior minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and said his party had pulled out of the provincial government.
In a statement, he said the PTI leaders were not sincere in addressing the problems being faced by Pakhtuns. The PTI ministers had done nothing during the past six months and wasted the funds meant for well-being of the people. He alleged the PTI ministers were being remote-controlled from Bani Gala in Islamabad, a reference to the party chief Imran Khan’s home. Mr Sherpao said the PTI had not consulted the QWP, its coalition partner, on key issues.
Accusing the PTI leadership of interfering in the affairs of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, he said the party had disregarded merit and blamed its coalition partners for the mess it had created. “The PTI leadership was neither interested in solving the problems of Pakhtuns nor understood them.”
The PTI was not interested in addressing the law and order issue and had ignored mega projects which were crucial for development of the province, he said.
“The PTI ministers neither visited the site of bomb blasts nor attended the funeral prayers of the martyred cops who were killed in acts of subversion.”