PESHAWAR: The marriage of convenience between two partners of the ruling coalition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with distinct political thoughts came to an end on Wednesday.
With the right wing Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf deciding to ‘pull out’ of its over five months’ alliance with the Pakhtun nationalist Qaumi Watan Party, the coalition government’s once impregnable numerical strength shrunk to a vulnerable proposition.
In the 124-member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, the PTI-led government alliance now has 68 members, including two ‘pro-government’ independents, eight members of Jamaat-i-Islami, five members of the single district-based Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan, and 53 members of PTI, whose post-May 11 election position strengthened after over half a dozen independent MPAs joined it.
The alliance between PTI and QWP came to an end after the former’s chief Imran Khan directed his strong man in Peshawar, chief minister Pervez Khattak, to pull out of the alliance.
The dismissal of two QWP members from the provincial cabinet by the chief minister on Wednesday was given as the reasons to end the alliance.
“PTI was elected on a mandate against corruption and there is zero tolerance for any form of corruption,” a PTI press release quoted the party chief as having said.
Identical position was taken by QWP when contacted.
“Our party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao had made it very clear in his address to the maiden meeting of our parliamentary party meeting that there would be zero tolerance to corruption,” said a QWP spokesman.
He said PTI made QWP a scapegoat by taking action, which was unjustified.
The QWP spokesman said PTI spared its own ministers, whose tales of ‘misdeeds and corruption’ were commonly known.
When contacted, Pakistan People’s Party’s member of the provincial assembly Nighat Orakzai said morally, PTI should have started from its own house.
“It would have given it a high moral ground if it had acted some of its ministers,” she said.
On its part, PTI’s press release made it clear that no one, including no one from PTI, would be spared if found involved in corruption.
“This should be a clear warning for all our ministers and MPAs and PTI cannot have as a coalition partner any party that tolerates corruption,” the PTI press release quoted its chief Imran Khan as having said in his directives to chief minister Pervez Khattak.
Mr Khan sounded appreciative of the provincial ministers belonging to another coalition partner.
“Our JI (Jamaat-i-Islami) ministers have proven exemplary in this regard and we respect them for their commitment towards anti-corruption,” the press release concluded, without discussing the level of honesty exercised by any of its own ministers and its other coalition partner, i.e. Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan.
In a strong-worded statement, Awami National Party’s interim provincial chief Bashir Ahmed Matta said the expulsion of two of the provincial ministers on corruption charges had exposed the reality of the PTI-led government.
He said PTI had promised to give a clean and an honest government to the province but could not rein in its own ministers.
“Still there are a dozen more ministers, who are involved in misdeeds and against whom action should be taken,” he said.
The ANP leader said those removed on corruption charges should be brought to the book, while cases should be registered against them.
However, QWP has vowed to put up a strong resistance against PTI.
“We will disclose their (PTI) corruption stories at a news conference to be addressed by our leader, Sikandar Hayat Sherpao, on Thursday,” said a QWP leader.
Spokesman for QWP Tariq Khan said the party leaders would meet in Peshawar on Thursday to discuss and chalk out their future course of action.
“We had joined PTI with a hope to bring peace to this province, improve Pakhtuns’ economic and living conditions, but PTI has turned out to be a big disaster,” he said.
Mr Tariq said QWP had told PTI leadership in clear terms that its position on disrupting the Nato supplies by issuing an executive order by the provincial government would be extra constitutional.
“We had told them that we would not go with you since the authority rests with the federal government,” he said.