With Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Mines and Mineral Development Ziaullah Afridi behind bars, fellow Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders have ratcheted up efforts to replace the man facing trial.
The opportunity arose when the K-P Ehtesab Commission arrested Ziaullah on charges of corruption on July 9. Party insiders say lobbying is well under way and a critical development in this regard is PTI General Secretary Jehangir Khan Tareen’s visit to Peshawar. The party bigwig is expected to fly in on Wednesday.
Man with a plan
It has been over a year since Tareen last visited the provincial capital. If murmurings within party circles are to be believed, his arrival clearly indicates the leader means business. Upon being ousted from their cabinet portfolios, several PTI leaders were unhappy with Tareen’s role in the decisions. When the former minister for local government and transport Yasin Khan Khalil and minister for industries Shaukat Yousafzai were removed, their supporters took to the streets and slung mud at Tareen; figuratively speaking.
Read: Ziaullah’s arrest : Ehtesab Commission directors ordered to submit replies
However, Tareen refused the notion out-and-out. Talking to The Express Tribune, he said he has no grievances with anybody and could not visit the city earlier due to party preoccupations. He nonetheless maintained he will look into organisational matters during his visit. Insiders party leaders in the presence of Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and also assess PTI student wing matters.
Following Ziaullah’s arrest, the Khalils and the Yousafzais came out of oblivion and started lobbying for the vacated berth. “A 17-member delegation of leaders, headed by Khalil, met Tareen in Islamabad on Sunday,” said a party insider. “They apologised to Tareen and requested him to make amends.” Furthermore, the delegation invited Tareen to Peshawar where all the disgruntled PTI activists wish to see him.
Meanwhile, a group within the party is also unhappy over PTI’s change of heart about the Qaumi Watan Party. Currently, backdoor negotiations are under way to bring the latter back into the fold of the coalition government following fresh developments in the National Accountability Bureau probe on corruption allegations against Aftab Sherpao’s men.
When contacted, Khalil confirmed that the PTI general secretary is scheduled to visit the city. However, he is adamant the trip is an outcome of party supremo Imran Khan’s and their invitations to Tareen to meet the newly-elected LG representatives. “Khan sahab was busy hence Tareen is coming to Peshawar.”
Read: PTI minister Ziaullah Afridi remanded into Ehtesab’s custody
Khalil, who is also the party’s Peshawar president, refuted claims that he is eyeing Ziaullah’s ministry. “PTI chairman had vowed that if any changes will take place in the government, he would adjust me. However, that commitment has nothing to do with Ziaullah’s portfolio,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.