LAHORE: The prime minister’s decision of forming two new committees for negotiating with coalition partners has not only irked the allies but has also given credence to reports that all is not well in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Opposition parties are trying to widen the cracks in the ruling coalition by offering the government allies share in provincial set-ups. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has reiterated his offer to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) “to work together” for resolving issues of Karachi.
PM Imran Khan had on Thursday nominated Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood to hold talks with disgruntled Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leaders, and named Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Firdaus Shamim Naqvi and Haleem Adil Sheikh for engaging the MQM.
Earlier, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, federal Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and the PM’s advisor on accountability Shehzad Akbar were negotiating with the MQM and the Q-League, which had been demanding one more slot in the federal cabinet and empowering the ministers earlier held by them both at Centre and in Punjab, as per promise made at the time of government formation.
Imran asks KP CM to give another chance to sacked ministers
Tariq Bashir Cheema, the lone PML-Q representative in the federal cabinet, skipped Thursday’s cabinet meeting. He was said to be in Saudi Arabia to perform Umra. While the MQM’s minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was also missing.
Senior PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi used the occasion of his meeting with a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Society here on Friday to express his reservations over the change in the committee.
“We can’t comprehend [the logic behind] the new committee. One committee is formed after another,” he said, adding negotiations with the first committee was leading to improvement in the (disputed) affairs that a new panel had come to fore.
Advising the government to not take its allies as sautan (a relation based on jealously between two wives of one man), he said one (type of) committee was formed while another was pooled, a reference to a form of pooling of fixed amount of money each month and giving it to one of the committee members. And that “our number has not yet come for getting this committee (the pooled money).”
Quoting Punjabi Sufi poet Baba Bulleh Shah’s verse “agly taun na pichlly taun, mein sadqay jawaan vichley taun” (neither the first nor the last, I’m fond of the middle one), he said they had joined hands with the PTI with sincerity and wished that the (incumbent) government should work and complete its term.
“We realise that we won’t escape the loss if the government is hurt,” he emphasised.
Parvez Elahi’s son MNA Moonis Elahi used social media to express his reservations over PM Khan’s decision. “We were making excellent progress with the earlier committee comprising of @JahangirKTareen @PervezKhattakPK and @ShahzadArbab1. Why is @pti out to self sabotage itself??” he said in his tweet.
The MNA had expressed his satisfaction after talks with the Tareen-led committee, which promised empowering the MML-Q ministers besides giving it a share in administrative powers in Gujrat, Chakwal and Bahawalpur districts where the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have strong political base. Hints were also given about giving them another slot in the federal cabinet.
The separation of Mr Tareen from the dialogue process speaks volumes about his abrupt departure for abroad. In the past he had always been playing the role of a trouble shooter for the ruling PTI.
On the other hand, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has repeated his offer for the MQM to work together to resolve Karachi’s problems, saying the party should focus on the issues of Karachi instead of ministries. The incumbent federal government didn’t have the guts to take along its allies, he added.
But Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui rejected the offer saying the PPP government in Sindh had the resources and powers to resolve issues of Karachi on its own and replace them (the MQM) as representatives of Karachi.
Meanwhile, seeing pressure by the allies, PM Khan has decided to put his own party in order. In his meeting with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in Islamabad on Friday, he has reportedly asked the latter to mend relations with three former cabinet colleagues — Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakeel Ahmed — sacked last week for “plotting” against the CM.
Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai met the prime minister three days ago to clear “misunderstandings”.
The PM told the CM that he had approved sacking of the ministers to give the message that he (the CM) was his (Imran Khan’s) representative and challenging the CM was like challenging him. He advised Mahmood Khan to give another chance to the removed ministers and thus strengthen his team.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2020