Deal struck: JUI-F’s Maulana Asmatullah tenders resignation

Published: March 12, 2017
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Maulana Asmatullah. PHOTO: FILE

Maulana Asmatullah. PHOTO: FILE

ABBOTTABAD: A Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) provincial lawmaker from Kohistan submitted his resignation to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly speaker’s office on Saturday citing his apparent failure in resolving the complaints by residents of his constituency.

However, sources said that the resignation had more to do with assurances given by the K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to a tribal jirga held in Peshawar on creating a third district in Kohistan, comprising areas under Palas Kolai tehsil.

JUI-F’s MPA Maulana Asmatullah, elected from PK-62 Kohistan II in the 2013 general elections submitted his handwritten resignation to the office of the K-P assembly speaker on Saturday. In the resignation, he cited his failure to solve problems faced by members of his constituency.

Since Speaker Asad Qaisar was not in Peshawar, the resignation is expected to be accepted and sent to Election Commission next week.

After Kohistan was bifurcated into two districts, Asmatullah and his 82-member Palas Kolai Action Committee had opposed the government’s decision to declare Pattan as the headquarters of the new Lower Kohistan district. The JUI-F leader wanted that his area, Palas Kolai to be named as the new district headquarters.

Asmatullah and the Palas Kolai action committee held several protests while numerous tribal jirgas on the subject also did not yield any solution to the impasse.

The committee first moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on the matter, and then the Supreme Court. They contended that the Palas tehsil deserved to be named as the district headquarters since it had a larger population than Pattan, with 13 union councils in the former compared to 10 in the latter. However, the courts dismissed the contentions, upholding the government’s move.

Asmatullah, though, did not let the court’s decisions deter him and he continued to oppose the K-P government’s move, demanding that either Palas should be merged with Upper Kohistan or that Palas should be made a district on its own.

The K-P chief minister assigned his adviser and PTI’s division president, Zar Gul Khan, to resolve the matter. Zar Gul’s older brother is the JUIF’s MPA from Torghar, Zarin Gul.

Sources said that the two brothers were instrumental in striking a deal with Asmatullah following prolonged deliberations.

Under the reported deal, Asmatullah would resign from his provincial assembly seat and back the PTI’s candidate for the seat in the inevitable by-election. In exchange, the K-P government would notify Palas Tehsil as the third district in Kohistan.

Moreover, the JUI-F leader would help the Imran Khan-led party form a local body government in the new district after formally joining PTI.

An insider added that Khattak assured a jirga in Peshawar on Friday evening that they would create a new district based on the 13 union councils of Palas, a notification for which would be issued next week.

Moreover, Zar Gul was announced as the PTI candidate to contest the by-elections on Asmatullah’s seat.

Despite repeated attempts, contact could not be made with Asmatullah.

However, Zar Gul confirmed that Asmatullah had tendered his resignation and that he had been nominated as PTI’s candidate during the by-elections, which are expected be held within a couple of months.

He added that his candidature from PK-62 Kohistan II had been confirmed by both, the chief minister and tribal elders of five major tribes of Palas Kolai.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2017.

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