Khattak launches breakaway faction PTI-Parliamentarians

Published July 17, 2023
A picture of former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mahmood Khan and former PTI leader Pervez Khattak in Peshawar on Monday. — Photo by author
A picture of former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mahmood Khan and former PTI leader Pervez Khattak in Peshawar on Monday. — Photo by author

Former PTI leader Pervez Khattak on Monday launched his own breakaway faction of the party by the name of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Parliamentarians (PTI-P).

Social media was rife today with visuals of the gathering of the newly formed party and its members, including former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mahmood Khan.

In a video of the gathering, Khattak was seen saying that like-minded former parliamentarians from KP had gathered today and after consultation, “we agreed to decide a future political strategy”.

“It was mutually decided that we will lay the foundation of a new party, which will be named Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Parliamentarians.

“We will announce its manifesto and the colour of its flag soon,” he added, reading from a paper.

Khattak went on to say that “our decision will be in the country’s interest”.

Sitting alongside Khan, he said both of them had served the province as chief ministers, of which he gave several examples.

“We introduced the Sahulat Sehat Card in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we built the Swat Motorway and established Peshawar BRT, we promoted tourism in the province … and introduced the Billion Tree Tsunami programme.”

He also urged the people to ponder on the reasons behind the PTI “wasting opportunities in elections three to four times”.

“Do we adopt the path of democracy or chaos? … What were the reasons that the PTI did not accept the elections? … This is a democratic country and elections should be held here.

“People of this country should think over why the PTI wasted election opportunities. This is a big secret and the day it comes out, everyone will know what was the PTI’s programme was,” he said.

For this reason, he said, they had decided to adopt the path of progress and prosperity and laid the foundation of a new party.

According to a handout issued by the party, Khattak is the new party’s chief while “more than 57” ex-PTI MPAs also joined the party with more inductions under way.

“Formation of new party came due to differences and conflict within the PTI on May 9 tragedy,” the handout reads, adding that all political leaders joining the PTI-P held PTI Chairman Imran Khan responsible for the May 9 riots.

“Imran Khan’s anti-national agenda was not only rejected by the public but the party’s own leadership. These patriotic politicians parted ways with the PTI over May 9’s events,” it further said.

The PTI and what’s left of its leaders came out guns blazing against the new party in an official response.

The party reacted to the development through metaphors, saying the “monsoon season is under way” and political parties were “springing up like weed”.

“Attempts are being made to destroy the standing crop of democracy in the country with a locust horde of 14 parties,” the party spokesperson added in a statement.

“In politics, the officials of the ‘Department of Agriculture’ are working hard day and night in the challenge of cultivating these new crops.”

Taking a dig at the formation of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party in Lahore, the PTI said: “That seed turned out rotten and was ground into the soil even before harvest.”

Similarly, it said: “The seed in KP called ‘Parliamentarian’ will also be washed away in the first rain of public reaction.”

Nonetheless, the party said it was grateful to the “Department of Agriculture” and its staff for “exposing the dirty eggs involved in behind-the-scenes conspiracies and separating them from PTI”.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Hammad Azhar said the faces of the new faction’s members showed disappointment.

“All of them know that they are attending their own political funeral, not a new party [launch],” he said.

In a later tweet, he said: “Can you imagine that someone actually thought that this group of people will be able to dislodge the most powerful phenomenon in KPK’s political history; Imran Khan.”

Reportedly, two people were transported straight from the lockup to attend this “political guillotine”, he added.

PTI KP President Ali Amin Gandapur said no one’s departure would affect the party or its chairman Imran.

He pilloried the lawmakers in the new party, asserting that they “should not forget that they are parliamentarians because of PTI and Imran Khan”.

He asserted that the PTI’s voter base still stood intact and the party would defeat all others to form its government in the elections.

The party shared a picture of former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser — who said he continued to stand with the PTI chief — saying it was “important to appreciate all those who were able to resist extreme fascism”.

Qaiser was seated beside Khattak in last month’s presser when the latter had announced his resignation from his party position.

The party also posted statements by Iftikhar Mashwani and Azam Khan — party leaders from KP — saying that they continued to stand by the PTI and were not part of the splinter group. Their names were on a list circulating online of PTI members who had allegedly joined Khattak’s party.

Ex-MPA Musavir Khan also asserted his continued affiliation with the PTI. His name was also included in the alleged list of PTI-P’s members.

Khattak, a former party leader who served as the federal defence minister from 2018 to 2022, was expelled from the PTI last week on the charge of encouraging former lawmakers to leave the party.

Sources familiar with the development earlier told Dawn that Khattak was expected to announce the launching of his party on Saturday at a press conference, but it couldn’t take place due to the non-committal attitude of some of those who had previously agreed to join the new venture.

Khattak, who won Nowshera’s NA-25 constituency in the 2018 general election, was still in consultation with his former party colleagues and was striving to put up a big show, the sources had said.

They had said that former PTI lawmakers and some cabinet colleagues wanted clarity and guarantees and assurances of a win in the upcoming elections and were reluctant to take political risks.

Khattak, who had been in Aftab Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party for four years before joining the PTI in 2012, is widely known for putting together a group of ‘electables’. He is now keen to assemble enough numbers to stake a claim to the top slot in KP after the elections.

However, “it is easier said than done”, one source had said. “Many of the former PTI MPAs and leaders in KP are willing to leave their party, but this would entirely depend on the fate of the party chairman Imran Khan. With him around, they fear they stand no chance of retaining their seats,” the source had said.

The source had said that the former PTI lawmakers, who wanted to go with Khattak, were still confused as the political scenario for the PTI in the context of upcoming general elections was unclear because no clear decision has come about Imran’s future.

Khattak was made the party’s provincial president after Imran’s ouster in April 2022 as prime minister through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

Earlier this year, in light of the crackdown on the PTI after the May 9 violence, Khattak had resigned from his party position during a press conference. On June 21, the PTI served a show-cause notice on him for allegedly contacting workers and inciting them to leave the party.

The notice, issued by PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, said: “It has come to the notice of the party leadership that you are contacting party members and inciting them to leave the party.”

Last month, it was reported that Khattak had held several meetings with former PTI lawmakers, including MPAs, MNAs and other stalwarts, and convinced them to leave the party.

A senior party leader in KP had told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that the PTI chief had come to know about Khattak’s overtures to party members and said that those who could not bear pressure and arrest could leave the party.

However, Imran also took strong exception to Khattak’s efforts to lure other members into leaving PTI, the party leader who spoke to Dawn had said, adding that this was why Khattak was issued the show-cause notice.

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