After witnessing a series of mutinies sprouting from within party ranks during the nazim and naib nazim elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s central leadership is largely busy with damage control measures. The party has doled out membership cancellation notices in dozens yet the uprising has seen no end.
Gone with the wind
August 30 saw a new splinter group, PTI-Ideological, emerge from within Abbottabad district. The forward bloc was formed by former PTI Abbottabad chief Sardar Sher Bahadur and Shaukat Tanoli. The two managed to muster support of 20 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz councillors and turned tables by defeating PTI nazim nominee Ali Khan Jadoon and naib nazim hopeful Sardar Waqar Nabi.
Things were no different in Havelian tehsil where PML-N’s Arsal Pervez became nazim with help from a group led by PTI’s Habibullah who was elected as the naib nazim. PML-N was also able to turn the tide in Mansehra with help from five dissident PTI members, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and Qaumi Watan Party. Senator Azam Swati was unhappy over Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and other party leaders denying his nephew Ahmed Shehryar Khan the nazim ticket and hence threw weight behind the PML-N candidate.
In a fix
Only recently did Khattak address a press conference and announce to take action against all those who deserted the party when it needed them the most. The issued notices mentioned the violation of Clause 78 of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act 2015, which talks about disqualification on grounds of defection. However, things do not loosen up with the issuance of these warnings. A subsequent sentence of the section states the condition does not apply to nazims and naib nazims.
This essentially translates into the fact that PTI can now do precious little to stop figureheads of the dissident group, Abbottabad nazim Sardar Bahadur and naib nazim Shaukat Tanoli.
“We have not violated party discipline. We are and will remain members of PTI,” said Dr Usama, a member of the forward bloc. He added the dissidents are not aware of the defection clause and are willing to accept whatever decision party chairman takes.
Answering a question about the defeat of party nominees Ali Jadoon and Sardar Waqar Nabi in Abbottabad district, PTI leader Awais Khan Swati attributed the division to Khattak and Minister for Information Mushtaq Ghani’s decisions.
He said the two, and many more, were never loyal to the party. “They should have learnt a lesson after Ghani’s brother Sardar Umair’s defeat in the district council election. Bahadur was denied his right and he snatched it away from them,” said Zulfiqar Jadoon, another PTI leader.
Senior leader Ali Asghar Khan said the gap was widened by the party’s parliamentary board. “We need to see if the board’s decision for Abbottabad was changed by someone else at the eleventh hour.” He said those who sided with Bahadur are in fact loyal to Imran’s cause. “They should investigate why a deserving party worker was denied the ticket twice.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2015.
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