Differences between PTI stalwarts Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Jahangir Khan Tareen yet again came to surface when the former, during a press conference on Monday, asked the latter to refrain from attending official government meetings.
Qureshi, PTI's vice-chairperson, acknowledged that Tareen "has done a lot for the party" and is a "God-gifted man with outstanding capabilities", but followed it up with a request that the former PTI secretary general not attend government meetings.
"I would ask my brother [Tareen] to think about this: when you participate in government meetings, it gives [PML-N's] Marriyum Aurangzeb an opportunity to hold a presser and call into question if this [your presence in meetings] is not contempt of court?"
Tareen was disqualified by the Supreme Court in December 2017 for mis-declaration under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution — the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was held ineligible for life to hold any public office over the Panama Papers leaks case.
Earlier this month, he briefed a federal cabinet meeting which led to a strong reaction from the PML-N. "Isn't it contempt of court that a person sentenced by the court was sitting in a cabinet meeting?" Aurangzeb had questioned.
Qureshi on Monday brought up Article 62(1)(f), saying "when it applies to Nawaz Sharif, we say he is not eligible for a position — neither of the party nor the government — but it changes for us [PTI]". "The PTI worker is mentally unable to accept it," he said.
Shortly after, Tareen via Twitter took a swipe at Qureshi, saying: "There is only one man in my life whom I consider my leader and to whom I am answerable. His name is Imran Khan."
"I have stood by his side through thick and thin and will continue to do so till my last breath, IA. What others may say for their own strange reasons does not concern me," he added, without naming Qureshi.
PTI leader and cabinet member Faisal Vawda lent support to Tareen, saying that he sits in official meetings on the insistence of cabinet members, including himself.
"He has selflessly done a lot for the party, we respect him as a senior colleague and learn from his expertise. Nobody in the party can dictate us, the prime minister is our leader and we take instructions from him only," he added.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was next to pitch in, also lending support to Tareen. "He is one of the biggest reasons for PTI being in power. He joins cabinet meetings on the prime minister's wish," said Chaudhry.
"The cabinet should respect the prime minister's wishes. The court orders against him are unfortunate. The orders removed him from the elections, not from the hearts of PTI workers," he stated.
Last year in October, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had issued notices to the federal government, Tareen and others on a petition against the disqualified politician for convening and chairing an official meeting of top government officials.
The petitioner Chaudhry Shoaib Saleem advocate had asked the court to permanently restrain the prime minister from allowing Tareen to participate in any official meeting in any manner and capacity whatsoever.