LAHORE: Former foreign minister Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali has ‘deferred’ his plan to join Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf after he got no assurance from its chief Imran Khan on getting a ticket for NA-140 constituency (Kasur) from where he was elected in 2008 from the People’s Party platform.
Mr Ali’s decision made it easier for his political rival and another former foreign minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, to decide his joining in the PTI. Mr Kasuri would formally announce the decision in a public meeting to be held at Kasur on coming Tuesday, a senior PTI leader told Dawn on Saturday.
Though Mr Khan was happy to have two more political heavyweights from Kasur, he reportedly could not convince Mr Ali to give up his demand for the party ticket from the constituency which had earlier sent him to the lower house.
“Mr Ali was eager to join the PTI after he developed differences with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari but his political rival’s (Kasuri’s) move to join Mr Khan even without an assurance regarding the ticket forced him to reconsider his own,” a PPP office-bearer said.
“PPP’s giving preference to Hina Rabbani Khar over him after Shah Mahmood Qureshi was forced to resign as foreign minister was a big disappointment for Mr Ali,” he said. There also have been reports that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had a meeting with Mr Ali after learning that the latter was considering joining the PTI and listened to his complaints.
On the other hand, Mr Kasuri, who had parted ways with the PML-Q after developing differences with Chaudhrys of Gujrat, has been in contact with Mr Khan for more than a year.
“Over a week ago Mr Kasuri had a meeting with Mr Khan and finalised his joining the PTI in a public meeting in his constituency. However, Mr Khan asked him to contest either from NA-139 or NA-141 but the latter did not agree. Finally Mr Khan told both Mr Kasuri and Mr Ali that leave the award of the ticket to the party and announce their joining without any condition,” a source in the PTI said.
“After a long deliberation, Mr Ali finally conveyed to Mr Khan about his decision. Then Mr Kasuri gave a go-ahead to his supporters in the constituency to make arrangements for Dec 20 public meeting that Mr Khan would also attend,” he said.
The source said Mr Kasuri was under pressure from his friends like Hamid Nasir Chatha, Gohar Ayub and Arbab Ghulam Rahim to first explore the option of joining the PML-N but he told them that Nawaz Sharif’s “stubborn attitude” was a major hurdle in PML-N’s alliance with other factions of the league.
A younger brother of Mr Khurshid Mehmood, Yahya Kasuri, is already an office-bearer of the PTI.