Tareen group loses steam after Buzdar meeting

Published May 22, 2021
PTI’s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen arrives at an accountability court in Lahore. —Online/File
PTI’s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen arrives at an accountability court in Lahore. —Online/File

LAHORE: The momentum built up by the aggressive Jahangir Khan Tareen group of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentarians to seek ‘relief’ from the Punjab government seems to have fizzled out as the disgruntled lawmakers failed to present a legitimate case on Friday, except demanding development works in their respective constituencies.

While on the other hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan met some Punjab ministers part of the Tareen camp and assured them of justice.

Commenting on the performance of Mr Tareen’s delegation, led by Saeed Akbar Khan Nawani, a provincial minister summed up the whole episode spanning over a month as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

The Tareen group members had been alleging that the PTI government in Punjab was victimising them, and even Jahangir Tareen had told the media outside the Judicial Complex in Lahore a couple of days ago that “the Punjab government is subjecting members of my group to vindictive tactics”.

Imran says genuine demands to be met but Tareen will have to face law

Mr Tareen had also formally launched his group by nominating its parliamentary leaders in the National and Punjab assemblies. The members had voiced their plans to abstain from the upcoming budget session, seeking separate benches in the house for the group and an all-important speech to be delivered by the group’s parliamentary leader, Mr Nawani, as well as lodging formal complaints on the alleged vindictive actions against them. However, nothing of that sort happened on Friday — neither in the Punjab Assembly nor during the meeting with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

“Our meeting with CM Buzdar was cordial. We explained different matters pertaining to our constituencies. He heard our grievances and assured us that the issues will be addressed in the upcoming budget,” said Mr Nawani.

The Tareen group parliamentary leader, who was accompanied by Nazir Chohan, Malik Nauman Langrial, Abdul Hayee Dasti, Ajmal Cheema, Umer Aftab, Zawar Warraich and Awn Chaudhry, denied that he had any plans seeking separate benches for his group members. “There is absolutely no reason to apply for separate benches,” he said, adding that the group did not do any negative politics and would get its issues resolved through discussions within the party.

It may be mentioned that Tareen group’s member Nazir Chohan had even lashed out at the prime minister in a TV talk show for becoming “omnipotent” in the party and went on to question if the PTI would not exist if Imran Khan was not around. He also chided the PM for his failure to extract the much-hyped money the Sharif family allegedly looted.

Mr Chohan on Friday said the chief minister had sought a month to resolve problems of the constituencies of the estranged MPAs, and even asked a deputy secretary to coordinate with the lawmakers. He, however, expressed dissatisfaction over CM Buzdar’s ability to deliver and said they did not believe their issues would be resolved. He stressed the Tareen group would remain intact and active.

Admitting that the group’s parliamentarians would support the treasury in the budget sessions in the Punjab and National assemblies, Chohan said they had no plans to bring a no-confidence move against the CM.

When contacted, a provincial minister, on the condition of anonymity, told Dawn that sometimes people (in reference to parliamentarians) become jittery and “try to book a seat” over fears something extraordinary might happen. The minister said the MPAs in Tareen’s group could not put forward any genuine grievances – neither regarding Tareen nor any alleged victimisation committed against them -- in the meeting with the chief minister. “They had nothing to say,” he claimed.

He said their confused stance could be judged from the fact that one moment they are seen standing behind Jahangir Tareen in the courts and the next they come to attend a cabinet meeting. Stating that the Tareen group had no moral high ground, the minister said all the delegation members stepped out of the chief minister’s meeting satisfied.

He also explained that the CM was already taking parliamentarians along and trying his utmost to resolve their constituency-related problems. He stressed that the Tareen group should not wash its dirty linen in public. “Parliamentarians are supposed to follow the party discipline and resolve issues through discussion within the party,” the minister suggested.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told the media that those who were conspiring to create a splinter group within the PTI had been frustrated as it was a democratic entity and there was no demigod in it.

She said the independence of opinion and respect for freedom of expression was unprecedented in the PTI that had created a new democratic culture absent in other political parties.

Dr Awan said both the prime minister and Punjab chief minister respected the dissident voices in the party and treated them democratically because public-related issues should not be snubbed. She claimed the party’s estranged leader Jahangir Tareen had also expressed his full confidence in the leadership of CM Buzdar. “The PTI government is committed to resolving all genuine issues,” she said.

ISLAMABAD: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan met with some Punjab ministers from the Tareen camp. A source in the PM Office told Dawn that the premier assured the legislators that all “genuine” demands of the group will be met.

However, PM Khan told the legislators, Mr Tareen will have to face the law in the 2019 sugar scam in which he has been accused of receiving benefits by increasing the price of the commodity and through its export.

Those who called on the prime minister included Punjab ministers Sumsam Bukhari and Muhammad Sibtain Khan. Balochistan MPAs Noor Muhammad Domar and Attaullah Shadikhel also attended the meeting.

Later, federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Khan had agreed that all genuine demands of Mr Tareen’s group should be looked into, but reiterated that the estranged leader will have to face justice. The PM also stressed that there will be no interference from the government in the accountability process, Mr Chaudhry said.

He further claimed that members of the Tareen group will remain part of the PTI and not form a forward bloc. “This group will exist for a long time and its members remain part of the PTI,” he added.

The minister said Tareen had worked a lot for the PTI and the prime minister acknowledged those contributions.

In a separate meeting, PM Khan met with MNAs Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, Muhammad Farooq Azam and Naureen Farooq Ibrahim, who briefed him about the development projects in various constituencies.

Syed Irfan Raza in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2021



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