Tensions between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi appear to have reached a boiling point.
Senior party workers confided to The Express Tribune that Imran categorically rejected Qureshi’s proposed framework for party structures in Punjab and Khyber-Pakthunkhwa after PTI President Javed Hashmi and old party workers expressed serious reservations.
Qureshi had been assigned to form regional steering committees in the two provinces, a move that aimed to pave the way for holding fair party elections. In this regard, Imran has dissolved all the existing regional bodies of his party across K-P and Punjab.
A ruckus was raised by Hashmi, however, over the framework which appeared to give precedence to a majority of new party workers, all inducted from either the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) or Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
“It will be unfair with the old guard of the party – they should not be ignored at all,” observed Hashmi during his meeting with Imran last week.
In response, Imran has established a supreme council consisting of Hashmi, Qureshi, Secretary General Dr Arif Alvi and Additional Secretary General Saifullah Niazi.
This council is to discuss the issues arising from the dissatisfaction of old party workers unhappy with the inclusion of new names in the regional steering committees. “Genuine resentment among senior party workers is growing,” observed a member of the council, adding that PTI Punjab President Ahsan Rasheed is amongst those who are resentful of the shakeup. “Old PTI workers think that certain party leadership who joined PTI after October 30 do not value old workers and are trying to promote their own (preferred) people,” said a senior leader.
“We will raise this issue in the meeting, arguing that the new faces now running party affairs will damage its good name,” he told The Express Tribune.
The party leader added that Hashmi’s role in the party will be significant in the coming days rather than Qureshi’s, as Hashmi enjoys full respect in the party.
Sources also said resentment has also risen in the rank and file because Qureshi wants to divide Punjab into two parts (south and north) by nominating provincial party presidents of his own choice. As a result, senior PTI leaders like Mian Yahya Shah Kakakhel, Mian Rahim Shah Kakakhel and Shahid Qazi left the party in a huff recently.
Imran, meanwhile, will take a decision about office bearers in Punjab and K-P after holding a rally in Quetta on April 20. Later this process will be initiated in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
Imran has also replaced Sindh party president Naeemul Haque with Nadir Khan Leghari, who, according to party leaders, made no progress in Sindh. The decision, however, was taken through a nomination process, not an election.
Balochistan Senior Vice President Syed Zahoor Agha said those who are leaving the party are “opportunists.” However, he neither confirmed nor denied the difference of opinion among the party’s top leadership, nor denied the resentment among old party workers.
PTI Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood, on the other hand, said Imran and Qureshi were on the “same page” when it comes to the formation of committees in Punjab and K-P.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2012.
Correction: An earlier version of the article mistakenly labelled Nadir Khan Leghari as Naeemul Haq and incorrectly named the PTI Punjab president. The errors has been rectified.