LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: As the relationship between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) appears to have turned sour on the issue of Senate elections, JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq on Monday declared that his party was “reviewing its role” in the PTI-led provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Talking to Dawn in Lahore, the JI chief claimed that they had held back so far because budget preparations were under way and a member of their party held the portfolio of finance ministry in the KP government.

“The Jamaat has decided that it should neither weaken the KP government nor become the reason for its downfall when budget preparations are under way,” Mr Haq said, ignoring the fact that PTI chairman Imran Khan had already announced that KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will not present the provincial budget this year.

“On top of that, only a few weeks of its (KP government) life are left anyway,” Mr Haq said in an apparent reference to the challenge put before him by the PTI — to quit the government if they believed that the PTI had played a negative role in the Senate elections.

The two parties have had strained relationship since the Senate elections in which the JI did not support the PTI-backed candidate for Senate chairperson seat, Sadiq Sanjrani.

The differences between the two parties became apparent when, while talking to the media at Mansoora last week, Mr Haq disclosed that KP CM Khattak had told him that the PTI had received directions from somewhere to support Mr Sanjrani for the office of Senate chairman. The PTI had reacted strongly to this “disclosure”.

Mr Haq had revealed that Mr Khattak had called him some days before the Senate chairman’s election and sought JI’s votes for their nominee. The JI chief claimed that when he asked about the name of the nominee, Mr Khattak feigned ignorance and said that he was also not aware of the name yet because the decision was coming from the top and the only thing he knew was that the nominee was from Balochistan.

The JI chief hastened to add that he did not understand what Mr Khattak had meant by “from the top”.

When asked why he had waited so long time to reveal this, Mr Haq said he had only responded to a query put before him by a media person.

Amid a back-and-forth between leaders of both parties, Mr Khattak explained that he meant that he had received instructions from Banigala — the residence of party chairman Imran Khan.

“No one can issue orders to me. I receive orders only from Allah and in party matters, from Imran Khan,” the chief minister explained, while responding to a question during a press conference in Islamabad on Monday. He added that he had told the JI chief that the PTI had decided to support a candidate from Balochistan for the post of Senate chairperson, while for the post of deputy chairperson they would support a candidate from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). He, however, criticised Fata senators for not showing unity and forcing the PTI to vote for the Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate.

The JI has already announced its decision to join the recently-revived Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and, according to sources, the party is expected to take some important decisions with respect to its relations with the PTI and its role in the KP government in consultation with other component parties of the MMA during a meeting of the alliance scheduled for April 27.

Reacting angrily to the JI chief’s disclosure, PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry challenged the JI to quit the KP coalition government.

“I am surprised as to why the JI has not yet quit the PTI-led KP government,” Mr Chaudhry had said in a statement issued by the party’s media office in Islamabad on Sunday.

The PTI leader had regretted that on one hand, the JI had filed a petition in the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and, on the other hand, had become an ally of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in the election of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman, alleging that the Jamaat’s politics was based on “hypocrisy”.

“The JI has so much love for the government that it is not ready to come out of the PTI-led coalition in KP,” the PTI leader said, terming the Mr Haq’s allegations against his party “baseless”.

Once again on Monday, Mr Chaudhry attacked the Jamaat, saying there “there is a need to check on whose agenda Sirajul Haq is working,” and added: “At present, both Nawaz Sharif and Sirajul Haq seem to have the same tone and tenor.”

Separately, Mr Chaudhry dared the ruling PML-N to take action against its party members who had voted for PTI’s Chaudhry Sarwar in the Senate elections.

Mr Chaudhry said the PTI had taken a courageous step by taking action against its 20 MPAs who were found to be involved in horse-trading in the Senate elections. He said the PML-N had been alleging that Chaudhry Sarwar had been elected through bribers and after purchasing votes. He said if the PML-N’s allegations were true, it should immediately take action against its legislators who were a part of the alleged horse-trading.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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