With Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s eyes set on Waziristan as a destination for his peace caravan, the party’s leaders and workers are active in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to garner as much support as they can.
According to a party member, close aides of Imran Khan have now shifted their focus to provincial politics on the directives of the party’s central leaders. The announcement of Shoukat Yousafzai as a candidate to contest intra-party provincial elections is the continuation of selecting trusted members for important party portfolios - a process through which central leaders look to strengthen the party’s position in the province.
Yousafzai had earlier resigned from Imran Khan’s political advisory group. He instead lobbied important party leaders to select certain candidates for different provincial party portfolios.
When asked about the ongoing not-so-secret consultation among provincial leaders which threatens to splinter PTI into several groups, the party’s provincial spokesperson Shah Farman called the lobbying for intra-party elections a ‘popularity contest among friends’. He added that no one in the party, at this crucial stage, could afford to part ways.
So far, there are four possible competitors that may contest PTI’s intra-party elections.
According to sources within the party, potential contenders for PTI’s provincial presidency are former K-P president Asad Qaiser and Pervaiz Khattak, who left Pakistan Peoples Party Sherpao to join the party.
The exposed intra-party disputes have adversely affected PTI’s progress in K-P. It has kept any major political figure in the province from joining the party. Nationalist leader and former Awami National Party stalwart Hashim Babar was the last major political figure to join PTI. He joined the party this April.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2012.