PM Imran grills KP CM over ‘wrong’ selection of contestants

Published December 23, 2021
A photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan (R). — DawnNewsTV/File
A photo of Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan (R). — DawnNewsTV/File

• Receives report on PTI’s defeat in its stronghold
• Likely to sensitise Punjab leaders over selection
• Lawmaker says villagers unwilling to receive PTI ticket
• Fawad hopes for better candidates for next phase of LG polls

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday received a brief report on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) defeat in the recent local government polls in its stronghold, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, indicating ‘wrong’ selection of candidates based on ‘favouritism’.

During his visit to Lahore on Thursday (today), the premier will sensitise party leaders in Punjab to select best possible candidates and prepare well for the local government polls, which are expected to be held in the province in March or April next year.

Mr Khan is likely to preside over PTI’s core committee meeting on Friday or Saturday in which the root cause of its defeat in the KP province where the party has been ruling for nearly a decade will be determined.

A source in the Prime Minister Office (PMO) told Dawn that the performance report was presented by KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan who was also grilled by Mr Khan for not fielding ‘deserving’ and ‘poll-winning’ candidates.

A day after blaming ‘wrong selection of candidates’ for PTI’s defeat in KP polls, the prime minister said amidst all the noise over the election result, nobody appreciated the fact that the government had empowered LG system for the first time in 74-year history of Pakistan. Local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the start of a modern, devolved local government system as exists in successful democracies, the PM tweeted on Wednesday. “Directly elected Tehsil nazims will improve governance & create future leader. Ist time in our 74-yr history we have an empowered LG system,” he wrote.

However, PTI lawmaker Noor Alam Khan, who returned to the National Assembly in 2013 and 2018 from Peshawar, told a TV show that the ‘wrong’ selection of candidates could not be blamed for the ruling party’s defeat in KP.

The MNA said people in villages were unwilling to even receive PTI tickets due to government’s poor performance. “We visited rural areas but were unable to convince people to contest the polls on PTI ticket,” he said, adding that price hike and unemployment were major factors behind it.

The government could not be run by Twitter and social media accounts only, the PTI lawmaker said, adding that he had been highlighting the problems being faced by the people without any positive outcome. He said he had to prove himself innocent before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in an assets beyond means case after he had raised the issues that people at the grassroots level had been facing.

He believed the result of the second phase of the KP polls would not be different if the real issues were not addressed within two weeks. However, he denied that he and other like-minded MNAs were going to support any no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

When contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the PTI failed to clinch top slots in the LG polls but it secured majority seats at village council level.

“This shows that the graph of the PTI has not declined,” he asserted.

He said the ruling party had learnt a lesson from the first phase of the LG polls in KP and would field better candidates in the second phase [ of polls scheduled to be held in KP from Jan 16].

According to the provisional results of 39 of the 63 tehsils declared by the Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday, the JUI-F not only won 15 seats of mayor/chairman but also gave a tough fight in many other tehsils where its candidates stood as runners-up.

In the provincial capital, the JUI-F stunned the PTI with a definitive lead in the contest for the mayor of Peshawar city. JUI-F candidate Haji Zubair Ali secured 62,388 votes against 50,659 votes secured by PTI’s Rizwan Bangash.

Of the remaining six tehsil chairman seats of Peshawar, the JUI-F managed to win four while the PTI could get one seat of tehsil chairman.

Fawad had earlier termed the JUI-F lead a victory of “extremist religious-political party” and called it “unfortunate” and “harmful for the country”.

Agriculture

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan presided over a separate meeting on kharif crops, which was attended by all provincial agriculture ministers via video link.

The premier directed the authorities concerned to make all-out efforts to improve the acreage and yield of all crops to ensure food security in the country. He said the government was focused on introducing better farming techniques and investing in research to produce better quality inputs like seeds and fertilizers.

Mr Khan was apprised that growth trend was being witnessed in the per acre yield of all major crops due to agriculture-friendly policies of the government.

STZA: In a meeting of the board of governors of Special Technology Zones Authority (STZA), PM Khan said: “Technology must be leveraged upon to not only earn foreign exchange but to recover from the current account deficit.”

He called for steps to ensure ease of doing business to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in IT.

Earlier, the premier was apprised that an investment of Rs520 million had been committed in different projects in Islamabad Technopolis, Karachi and Lahore Special Technology Zones under the STZA.

Ties with Norway

The premier during his meeting with ambassador of Norway, Per Albert Ilsaas, said Pakistan and Norway had excellent relations and highlighted that Norwegians of Pakistani-origin formed a strong bridge between the two countries. He said there was potential for increased collaboration in political, economic and other areas of mutual interest.

Referring to the Norwegian telecom company, Telenor, Mr Khan said Pakistan-Norway economic relations were growing.

Extending greetings on behalf of Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, whose party won the parliamentary election in September, the ambassador also felicitated PM Khan on successful holding of the 17th extraordinary session of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM).

PM Khan also extended an invitation to the Norwegian prime minister to undertake a visit to Pakistan at his earliest convenience.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

18 May, 2022

SC on defections

THE judgement is monumental and will significantly influence Pakistani politics for years to come. After a nearly...
18 May, 2022

Karachi blast

THE frequency of urban terrorism incidents over the past few weeks in Karachi should send alarm bells ringing within...
18 May, 2022

Threats to Imran Khan

IT seems there is never a dull moment in Imran Khan’s life. First, it was a cabal of local and international...
Updated 17 May, 2022

Buyer’s remorse

It is strange to hear senior PML-N leaders lamenting the subsidies, yet not even coming up with a subsidy rationalisation plan.
17 May, 2022

Sikh traders’ killing

THE brutal murder of two Sikh traders in the outskirts of Peshawar on Sunday illustrates the vulnerability of...
17 May, 2022

Cholera outbreak

REPORTS of rising cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea in several areas are raising the spectre of a public...