Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) appeared to be in a quandary on Friday over the nominations for the post of Punjab caretaker chief minister with party leader Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed naming hardliner Orya Maqbool Jan as a candidate and party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry refuting his candidacy.
Rasheed had announced the names of Jan, businessman Yakoob Izhar and senior analyst Prof Hassan Askari while speaking to the media after a meeting with the Punjab Assembly speaker early on Friday. He had expressed hope that the two sides would reach a consensus on the issue by Sunday.
After Rasheed mentioned Orya Maqbool Jan's name, people on social media tore into the PTI for considering someone as divisive as Jan, who currently hosts a show on Neo TV.
PTI refused to comment on the issue when Dawn.com reached out for a confirmation of the names.
However, shortly after Rasheed announced the names, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry took to Twitter to share the "three names" proposed by the party for the important post, omitting Jan from the list and replacing it with columnist Ayaz Amir.
Chaudhry added that an agreement on the name was expected by Saturday evening.
While speaking to Geo News, Chaudhry acknowledged that there was a "communication gap". "Maybe he [Rasheed] did not see the names [...] there was some confusion. The party had three names which were presented by me."
The spokesperson admitted that Jan's name was also discussed, adding "But the primary names that the four-member core committee decided were approved by Chairman Imran Khan and mentioned by me."
Rasheed, while also speaking to Geo News, clarified that Orya Maqbool Jan's name was presented "after directly taking permission from chairman sahab [Khan]".
"I received Ayaz Amir's name later and conveyed it to the speaker," he said. "It [sharing of names] has happened with consultations; I have done nothing directly on my own; they were given from the party."
PTI backtracks on names
Over the last week, the party has been in a disarray regarding names of the proposed caretaker chief ministers. On Wednesday, PTI withdrew the nomination of Nasir Mahmood Khosa as caretaker CM of Punjab — merely two days after their own leader Rasheed had finally reached an agreement with Shahbaz Sharif to appoint him to the post.
The name of Khosa, a former federal finance secretary who has also served as the chief secretary of Punjab and Balochistan, had been proposed by the PTI itself and finalised after much haggling by Sharif and Rasheed in a meeting at the PML-N’s Model Town office on Monday.
PTI chairman Imran Khan had also rejected the previously decided Manzoor Afridi’s nomination for caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only hours before the deadline on Monday. His name was allegedly withdrawn for being an outcome of a deal between the chief minister and the opposition leader in the KP Assembly.
Separately, the party on Thursday evening welcomed Farooq Bandial to its fold only to expel him a few hours later following backlash on social media directed at the new entrant's criminal past.
Party leader Naeemul Haque had taken to Twitter to announce that Bandial had been expelled from the party "with immediate effect".
Terming his entry into the party "unfortunate", Haque had said: "We have no place for people with such record in our party."