PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is heading for crisis due to differences among its leaders over nomination of the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the former chief executive Pervez Khattak has threatened to quit politics if he did not get the coveted post.
“There is a rift over the selection of the chief minister. The party leadership has decided to shift former chief minister Pervez Khattak and provincial assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to the centre and give them some responsibilities in the federal government and most probably appoint former education minister Mohammad Atif Khan as chief minister,” a senior PTI leader told The News on Sunday.
Pleading anonymity, he said that the message had been conveyed to Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser.
Pervez Khattak told The News he had made it clear to his party leadership that he would not go to the centre.
“Asad Qaiser and I refused to go to the centre and decided to stay in the province. I have decided to quit politics and leave the party as well if I was not appointed chief minister,” Pervez Khattak told The News when reached for his comments about the latest developments in the party.
Well-placed sources told The News that Pervez Khattak was reportedly assured earlier to be appointed chief minister of the province if PTI won election and was in a position to form the government.
However, the sources said the party leadership after some initial meetings with the PTI’s newly elected parliamentarians and other senior leaders changed their mind and decided to shift Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser to the centre.
“The party leadership will hold more meetings in the next few days to get additional feedback of the PTI’s newly-elected parliamentarians but Atif Khan seems to be the favourite choice of party leadership,” said a PTI office-bearer who was privy to deliberations in Banigala, the residence of Imran Khan in Islamabad that is also used as party headquarters.
According to insiders, Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser had reportedly told the PTI leadership that if they were called to the centre they would not accept Atif Khan as chief minister.
“They have told party leadership that if they were not given their previous responsibilities in KP, they would not accept Atif Khan as the chief minister,” said a newly-elected PTI parliamentarian.
Pleading anonymity, he said he met PTI chairman Imran Khan in Banigala and wanted to know about his plan for KP, and the party chairman told him he would take the decision in the coming few days.
According to PTI sources, Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser may face stern action from Imran Khan if he felt they were creating crisis in the party for their vested interests.
“I know Imran is a man of a very different nature. He might take serious action against them if he realised they were resisting decision of the party leadership to promote personal agenda,” said the PTI leader who is an old colleague of Imran Khan.
According to sources, Imran’s close people had advised him to carefully choose competent, educated and visionary people from amongst the newly-elected parliamentarians to lead the KP government.
“The situation is totally different than 2013. PTI had a less number of MPAs and needed Pervez Khattak’s expertise in seeking support of other political parties for a coalition government in the province. He did his job successfully but exploited it very well and remained untouchable in the five year government of the party,” he noted.
He said the party leadership has convened another meeting on Monday and would probably hold one more meeting to finalize the decision, but Atif Khan is likely to be the future chief minister even though he is still facing hurdles from some of the influential people in PTI.
Insiders said they don’t expect Asad Qaiser to create serious problems for Atif as he doesn’t have enough support within the party. However, they feared that Pervez Khattak was dangerous and could cause some damage to the PTI in his native Nowshera.
“The situation is far better than 2013 when Pervez Khattak had an upper hand. Today he does not have much influence as most of the people are new and directly in touch with Imran Khan,” he said.
PTI secretary information, Fawad Chaudhry told The News that the party has not finalised name of the chief minister for KP, adding it might take two or three more days.