A convenient reunion: Three’s a crowd, can four be a government?

Insiders say QWP-PTI talks over, announcement awaited


Iftikhar Firdous July 17, 2015
QWP chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao addressing a press conference after his party polls last year . PHOTO: NNI

PESHAWAR: Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) mending of ties has been widely reported, so all that is expected is a formal announcement to seal the deal and bring the former into the government. But what prompted the two parties to make up after their break-up?

The road to reconciliation started at the all-parties conference which was called in the wake of protests against local government elections.

Read: In harmony: Sherpao elated with QWP’s performance in polls

A QWP leader, requesting anonymity, said the ruling part acknowledged its former coalition partner was treated unfairly.  Two members of the Sherpao-led party, both of whom were familiar with these developments, said a deal was on the table with an option to sign so that the PTI leadership’s actions from outside the province had no effect on the coalition.

While a 12-point demand manifesto was vetted by the QWP’s central executive committee, the party remained adamant it had no interest in ministries. However, it remained steadfast on the acceptance of its demands, saying QWP’s ideals were based on Pukhtun nationalism.

Read: Blame game: PTI accused of ignoring opposition in talks with federal govt

Point by point

The points on the draft were about an array of topics ranging from the province’s share of the NFC Award to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, load-shedding and funds for terror victims. Such demands were predictable from a party leaning towards nationalistic ideals. Insiders said there was a verbal understanding between PTI and QWP which might not just see the latter claim two ministries, but also the same number of special assistants to the chief minister.

An initial demand for the spot of the deputy speaker was rejected by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, revealed the insiders. He wanted the slot to be given to somebody within the PTI to prevent the formation of a “forward block”.

Read: For Qaumi Watan Party, tough times ahead in Charsadda

A committee consisting of members from both parties would be formed to resolve problems which may arise in future central executive committees, one insider went on to say. The provincial general secretary of QWP told The Express Tribune the parties agreed, in principal, to patch up and now it was up to the central leaderships in Islamabad to make a final decision, most likely after Eid.

Bridging the gaps

“I have not been contacted by my party about any decisions made,” said former provincial minister Bakht Baidar Khan who was sacked on corruption charges. He is also involved in a legal battle with PTI Chairperson Imran Khan. Asked whether he would withdraw charges if his party joined the government, Baidar said he was clueless about the developments.

Senior politicos from QWP and PTI said if the agreement achieved its aim, there would be a public acknowledgement that the former coalition partner had been mistreated. “All will fall into place,” one of them stated. However, the question remains over where all these friendly overtures leave the Shahram Tarakai-led Awami Jamhori Ittehad Pakistan and Jamaat-e-Islami. While AJIP plans to merge into the PTI after Eid, it seems the relationship between the ruling party and JI has hit troubled waters. “The coalition stands for now,” said a JI leader. “We need each other.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015. 

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