PESHAWAR: Coalition partners in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are likely to be pitted against each other in the upcoming by-polls.
By-elections on five national and four provincial assembly seats are scheduled to take place on August 22.
A PTI insider said the chances of the coalition partners fielding joint candidates were slim and both parties would most likely contest solo. He said neither the JI nor the PTI was interested in any electoral alliance. The person familiar with the matter further said both parties had held a meeting some time ago to discuss a possible arrangement. “However, the talks led nowhere.”
The PTI is not ready to accept JI’s terms and conditions for an alliance. “The JI was very interested in the NA-5 seat vacated by Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak. But the PTI was not willing to agree to this,” he added.
The PTI has awarded the NA-5 ticket to Khattak’s son-in-law, Dr Imran Khattak, while the JI will be fielding Asif Luqman Qazi, the son of late JI leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed.
The party member maintained, however, that there was still a chance the PTI would come to an agreement regarding the by-polls with the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), its second coalition partner, due to good terms between CM Khattak and QWP chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.
On the other hand, JI’s provincial spokesperson Israrullah Advocate said his party had held a meeting with the chief minister secretariat officials some time ago to discuss the issue. Israrullah claimed no decision was made at the time. “There will be another discussion (on a possible alliance) as we have not yet reached the final stage of dialogue.”
Israrullah maintained it would be good for both parties to field candidates across the province as they were coalition partners in the provincial government.
Earlier, before the May 11 general polls, both the JI and PTI had agreed to a seat adjustment deal and even constituted a committee to take this option further. However, the talks broke down with the JI alleging the PTI was not serious about an electoral alliance with the former.
Three National Assembly seats from K-P were vacated by PTI leaders after the general elections. NA-1, Peshawar was given up by PTI chief Imran Khan, NA-5, Nowshera was vacated by PTI General Secretary and Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and NA-13, Swabi was given up by K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser. The two other National Assembly seats up for grabs at the by-polls were vacated by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who gave up NA-25 and NA-27.
Of the provincial assembly seats, PK-23 Mardan was vacated by former K-P chief minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and PK-70 Bannu was given up by yet another former chief minister, Akram Khan Durrani. Finally, PK-27 Mardan and PK-42 Hangu were vacated after the elected members were killed in two separate incidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.