LAHORE: The tussle between the Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Jahangir Khan Tareen groups for control in the PTI and the government seems to be escalating, hurting the party in the process.
Sources say the Qureshi group ignored PTI’s former secretary-general Jahangir Khan Tareen at party’s 23rd foundation day events in Lahore and Islamabad.
In Lahore, Mr Tareen was invited at the eleventh hour to the foundation day event at the Governor’s House jointly hosted by Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar last Thursday. Mr Tareen stayed away although the event was chaired by President Dr Arif Alvi.
In Islamabad, sources said that PTI chief organiser Saifullah Niazi did not formally invite Mr Tareen to attend the foundation day event on Wednesday. Mr Tareen missed the event where Prime Minister Imran Khan was seen flanked by Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Saifullah Niazi. Close aides of Mr Tareen, however, claim that he was duly invited but the prime minister had instructed him to brief media on new local government law in Lahore.
Senator Faisal Javed Khan in a news channel show said the party missed Mr Tareen at the foundation day. The former secretary-general appeared on Wednesday at a press briefing by Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja and Information Minister Samsam Bukhari on the Local Government Act 2019 on the invitation of CM Usman Buzdar at chief minister’s secretariat on Wednesday. Mr Buzdar himself was busy at a May Day function in Nankana Sahib district.
Sources say the Local Government Act was close to Mr Tareen’s heart as he was the real architect and had done initial spadework to shape the law. Former local government minister Abdul Aleem Khan was overseeing the law drafting process before his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau.
When the Local Government Act 2019 was passed by the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Tareen tweeted: “I congratulate Punjab Government on the passage of LG Act 2019. This act epitomizes PM Imran Khan’s vision to devolve power and to strengthen local governments. It will be implemented in its true form and the system will prove to be a game changer for the province”.
Sources say PM Khan had assigned the tasks of preparing local government bill as well as agriculture policy to Mr Tareen. Beyond this scope, Mr Tareen on the instructions of the prime minister was unofficially meeting cabinet members, party legislators and leaders. Mr Tareen is also taking briefings from bureaucracy asserting his role in Punjab government’s administrative affairs.
After Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi chided Mr Tareen for attending official meetings, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar in a TV interview reacted sharply to assertions that Tareen was taking control in Punjab. A few days later, estranged party leader advocate Hamid Khan criticised Tareen for doing assignments that could only be done by elected members under oath.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2019