PESHAWAR: Despite repeated requests from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership, a prominent leader from Charsadda district and former law minister Barrister Sultan Mohammad Khan has decided to quit the party and join the Awami National Party (ANP).
When reached, Sultan Mohammad Khan, confirmed that he had decided to quit PTI and join ANP.
“Yes, it’s true. I have decided to say goodbye to the PTI and join the ANP, the party of my father and forefathers,” Sultan Khan told The News.
He avoided further comments, saying he had decided to hold a press conference in his native Charsadda town on September 10, and explain his position and share all the details of his quitting the party with the media.
Asked if he would resign from the provincial assembly seat, he said he would decide after consulting his colleagues in the constituency and would see what is better for his people.
The former law minister said he had made his final decision of quitting PTI during a jirga brought to him by the ANP provincial president Aimal Wali Khan and several other party leaders to formally invite him to the Pakhtun nationalist party.
Sultan Khan was considered an influential cabinet member when he was made minister of law and parliamentary affairs after winning the election on the PTI ticket in the 2018 general election.
His tough time began in February 2021 when he along with other MPs appeared in a purported video, shared on Twitter by the PTI official account, where some people were shown counting bundles of currency notes before the 2018 Senate elections.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had then sought his resignation on his alleged appearance in the video.
In 2018, the party expelled its 20 MPAs after they were found guilty of selling their votes in the Senate elections and allegedly getting Rs50 million.
Later an inquiry committee cleared Sultan Khan of the allegations that prompted him to demand the PTI leadership restore his cabinet membership.
It didn’t happen, though he was made to wait for a long time.
He was constantly ignored by the party leadership which annoyed him to set his future as he believed that the PTI leadership would not restore his cabinet position.
After sensing that Sultan Khan is in talks with the ANP leadership, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan visited his residence in Charsadda to address his reservations.
The chief minister later spoke to the media along with Sultan Khan and denied rumours of his quitting the party.
Later former defence minister Pervez Khattak and ex-speaker of National Assembly Asad Qaiser also met him to convince him to stay in the party.
The PTI leadership was worried about the timing as former prime minister and party chairman Imran Khan is contesting elections from Charsadda and facing ANP’s leader Aimal Wali Khan who is a joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement.
Imran was already in trouble in Charsadda and now when his party’s popular figure has parted ways, it will add to his woes.
Sources close to Sultan Khan told The News that he had already made up his mind to quit PTI as he knew the party would not consider him for the ticket in the coming elections.
“The PTI leadership wanted him to stay in the party till the by-elections in Charsadda and that’s what he had learnt and chose a good time to leave,” a PTI leader told The News in Peshawar on condition of anonymity.
Known as a polite educated lawmaker, Sultan Khan has close family connections with the ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan. They belong to an influential clan of Charsadda’s historic Rajjar town.
His grandfather was the first cousin of veteran nationalist leader, late Khan Abdul Wali Khan as their mothers were sisters.
Also, the wife of ANP leader Asfandyar Wali Khan is Sultan Khan’s aunt.
Sultan Khan’s family later developed differences with Wali Bagh which lasted for 23 years. His father remained the ANP president from Charsadda for quite a long time.
Late ANP leader and then senator Abdul Khaliq Khan was Sultan Khan’s grandfather.
In 1970, Abdul Khaliq Khan was elected as MNA from Swabi and then again got elected MNA from Mardan in 1988.
He and Asfandyar Wali Khan had together spent time in Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan Prisons.
Sultan Khan said he couldn’t resist his family elders, friends and well-wishers who wanted to help resolve their long pending issues with the ANP leadership as they are close relatives.
Sources close to Sultan Khan said their family owns a large agricultural land that is spread over three major villages of Charsadda.
Before joining the PTI, Sultan Khan was an active member of the Aftab Sherpao-led Qaumi Watan Party and won the election on the party ticket from Charsadda.
Prior to that, he contested elections as an independent candidate and polled more votes than the candidates of mainstream political parties.
There are reports that more PTI MPAs are also in negotiations with different political parties and may quit in the next few weeks or months.
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