PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has attracted a number of political figures from different political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in recent weeks despite the fact the party has remained in power for five years and will need extra efforts to woo the voters in the next general election.
In Pakistan a political party which remains in power often losses its own members but the case with PTI is different, particularly in KP.
A few months ago the PTI leadership in KP faced serious internal crisis when Chief Minister Pervez Khattak developed differences with two powerful cabinet members, Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai and his cousin and Education Minister Mohammad Atif Khan.
Shahram Khan belongs to Swabi and had joined the PTI along with his family and supporters after merging his Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) with it. The AJIP was founded by his father Liaqat Khan Tarakai, who was later elected as Senator on the PTI ticket.
Atif Khan was elected MPA from his native Mardan district.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan was quick to intervene and resolve the differences as, according to the PTI sources, some senior party members had informed him about its repercussions for the party in KP.
“Since PTI had already lost some of its precious people and there were feelings in the PTI that most of them were victimized by Pervez Khattak, therefore in the case of Shahram Tarakai and Atif Khan, Imran Khan was quite clear and had guessed that Khattak was allegedly planning to target them as both could have proved a potential threat to him in the future, apparently due to their popularity among the party workers and closeness to PTI chairman,” a PTI leader told The News in Peshawar.
“The day some party activists in Mardan displayed banners describing Atif Khan as the next chief minister, it irked the chief minister who decided to teach him a lesson. Had this been any other PTI activist, he would have long been shown the doors,” said the PTI leader.
In his view, first Shaukat Yousafzai, then Yasin Khalil and later Ziaullah Afridi was cornered and an impression was created to the PTI central leadership that all three were involved in corrupt practices.
According to PTI circles, the party chairman is now personally overseeing the party affairs in KP, though he is still stated to be under the influence of Pervez Khattak. “It’s an open secret that Pervez Khattak is calling the shots in KP because of his strong relationship with Jehangir Khan Tareen. And Jehangir Tareen is the real PTI,” said the PTI activist.
Almost all the PTI leaders and activists in KP are of the view that though their government didn’t deliver as it was expected; people still prefer it due to Imran Khan.
The party would complete its five years term in May this year and unlike its rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the PTI lost only one MNA and attracted a significant number of politicians from other political parties.
Except a few, most of those who recently came to PTI from other parties are known for changing loyalties. PTI MNA from Nowshera, Siraj Mohammad Khan parted ways with Imran Khan and joined PML-N.
He announced his decision during the recent visit of PML-N’s newly elected president and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in Peshawar.
Siraj Mohammad Khan was among the few PTI parliamentarians who were accused of avoiding the party’s ‘dharna’ in Islamabad. However, insiders said he was among the PTI legislators who formed a forward block against Pervez Khattak and held him responsible for favouritism and ignoring the party’s manifesto.
On the other hand, PTI snatched PML-N’s senior leader in Peshawar district, Nasir Musazai, the party’s former losing candidate from NA-4. Nasir Musazai has been unable to win an election. He obtained a sizeable number of votes due to the hard work of the PML-N leadership, particularly Engineer Ameer Muqam who invested time and provided natural gas and electricity to parts of the constituency.
The PML-N also lost its lone MPA from Peshawar district, Arbab Waseem, who has now joined the PTI and will be the likely party candidate from the same constituency.
An MPA of Aftab Sherpao-led Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), Sultan Mohammad Khan from Charsadda has quit his party and is on the way to formally joining the PTI. PTI sources claimed that another MPA of QWP, Khalid Khan from Charsadda is set to join PTI.
The Saifullah family from the Lakki Marwat district is known for its vast businesses and influence in their native Lakki Marwat district.
Three of the five Saifullah brothers, Humayun Saifullah, Anwar Saifullah and Salim Saifullah, have been in politics for quite a long time and remained part of most governments.
Salim Saifullah, a former federal minister, two days ago made an electoral alliance with PTI to contest the polls in Lakki Marwat. The PTI sources said their leadership had been in contact with the Saifullah brothers for sometimes now.
Elder brother Humayun Saifullah has been doing constituency-based politics in Lakki Marwat and maintained his contacts.
Anwar Saifullah and Salim Saifullah lost to the JUI-F candidates in the 2013 election.
In a subsequent by-election, the Saifullahs backed PTI candidate Col (R) Amirullah Khan Marwat and helped him to win the National Assembly seat.
“The PTI leadership wanted all three brothers to join the party, but Salim Saifullah alone was willing to come to us. Anwar Saifullah was stated to have differences with PPP but did not want to join PTI at the moment,” said a PTI insider.
He said Salim Saifullah along with former District Nazim Ashfaq Meenakhel announced the electoral alliance with PTI on behalf of Marwat Qaumi Ittehad. Salim Saifullah had said he will contest as an independent candidate while his family would back PTI candidates on the provincial assembly seats.
In Peshawar district, late provincial minister Arbab Ayub Jan’s son Arbab Usman recently joined the PTI. He had earlier joined the PPP but this association was short-lived. On Monday in Mardan, a noted PPP stalwart and former MNA, Haji Sarfaraz Khan, joined PTI in the presence of Imran Khan.
Sarfaraz Khan, 96, is the maternal uncle of senior PPP leader, Rahim Dad Khan. Both belong to Mardan’s rural Hathyan village. Before joining PTI, Sarfaraz Khan spent time in PML, PPP and ANP.
Interestingly, Sarfaraz Khan’s grandsons recently met Imran Khan and persuaded their elderly grandfather to join the PTI.
According to sources, PTI leadership was in contact with former education minister Iftikhar Mohmand of the PML-N in Mardan, ANP’s Arshad Abdullah in Charsadda and PPP’s Akbar Khan in Peshawar to join the party.
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