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Jamaat-PTI coalition on the rocks

Updated November 27, 2016


PESHAWAR: The Jamaat-i-Islami has had an uneasy relationship with its major coalition partner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, on several issues ranging from the removal of Bank of Khyber’s managing director to the appointment of the province’s chief khateeb.

An insider told Dawn that the JI had put up a ‘list of demands’ to the PTI but hadn’t got a positive response yet. He said uneasiness in the working relations between the two parties could end their three and a half years long coalition.

The insider said the JI had been continuously complaining that its demands were neglected unnecessarily embarrassing its leadership in front of workers.

JI gave Tehreek-i-Insaf a list of demands but got no response

He said the ‘taunting remarks’ of the PTI’s education minister in the provincial assembly over changes to textbooks had also annoyed the top JI leadership.

“Both sides have had rocky relations. During a recent meeting in Nowshera, JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq gave clear directions to senior minister Inayatullah Khan to prepare himself for quitting the coalition at an appropriate time,” said a source privy to the meeting.

The list of JI demands contains action against the BOK managing director, appointment of a Jamaat leader as chief khateeb of the province, action on non-cooperative behaviour of local administrations with JI nazims in some districts, early execution of some development schemes, and resolution of the sticky issue of modification in textbooks and appointment of theology teachers to primary schools.

Another source in the JI said the delay in meeting the JI demands on part of the PTI had strained relations between the two parties and that the JI ministers felt discomfort in this situation.

He complained the government deliberately delayed fulfilling the demands of the JI.

“Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has been sleeping on summaries of our ministers,” he told Dawn.

A JI delegation met the chief minister on Thursday and discussed with him the matters of its concern.

The JI issued a news release after the meeting demanding legal action against the officials giving the BOK a bad name.

Sources said the PTI and JI were not been seeing eye to eye on the BOK MD issue.

The JI demands that the chief minister take action against the bank’s MD in light of the inquiry committee’s report as the bank management has already tendered apology through an advertisement.

“The MD despite tendering apology is showing stubbornness and he still ignores finance minister Muzafar Said on important matters,” the source said, adding that the MD had been inviting own people for inaugurating the bank’s new branches.

Another hurdle to the good relations between the two coalition partners is the appointment of the chief khateeb in the province.

The post has been lying vacant for one year after the retirement of Qari Rouhullah Madani.

The JI recommended the name of Maulana Ismail for the post with the summary in this respect being put up to the chief minister around a year ago.

Religious affairs minister Habibur Rehman, who belongs to the JI, said the appointment of the chief khateeb was the chief minister’s prerogative.

He said the chief khateeb’s was an honorary post of BPS-18 and that there’s no need to advertise it for filling.

“Maulana Ismail belongs to the JI. Certainly, the party will recommend a person to the post who is known to us,” he said, adding that the department put up the summary again to the chief minister around a month ago.

Among other demands of the JI are appointment of theology teachers to public sector primary schools, incorporation of national heroes in textbooks and speedy work on new universities in Upper Dir, Buner and Chitral, and establishment of a medical college in Timergara, Lower Dir.

When contacted, education minister Atif Khan said the JI instead of highlighting issues in media should discuss them at a proper forum.

He said the JI had never discussed issues like appointment of theology teachers, incorporation of national heroes in textbooks and changes to curriculum with the PTI.

The minister said the JI’s reservations about some mistakes in textbooks had already been removed and that he was unaware of the latest issue.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2016