Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has directed two Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ministers to vacate their seats in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Cabinet to accommodate Qaumi Watan Party legislators in their stead. However, insiders say one has refused to do so.
An official privy to the development told The Express Tribune on Saturday two PTI minister were summoned to the CM House to discuss the matter.
“Khattak directed ministers to resign during the meeting,” he said. “One of the ministers rejected the CM’s directive. As a result, the oath-taking ceremony of QWP legislators, which was scheduled for October 4 (today), has been delayed to next week.”
According to the official, the 18th Constitutional Amendment has put an end to the practice of forming large cabinets. “The provincial cabinet can have no more than 15 members,” he said. As things stand currently, Khattak’s cabinet consists of 13 members after former minister for mines and mineral development Ziaullah Afridi was removed from office.
He added, “At first there were rumours a Jamaat-e-Islami minister’s seat will be allotted to QWP. However, the chief minister decided against the decision and asked PTI ministers to vacate their slots.”
Out of the loop
A majority of PTI members in K-P have voiced reservations about the decision to bring QWP into the fray as they were not duly consulted. However, party officials such as Fazal Elahi and Yaseen Khalil disagreed about others being left out.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, another party insider requesting anonymity said PTI chairperson Imran Khan and other party members did not agree with the decision to bring QWP back into the K-P coalition. In November 2013, the CM had sacked two QWP ministers from the provincial cabinet on charges of corruption. This was followed by QWP’s ouster from the coalition.
“Khattak was the only one who was keen on QWP joining the government,” he said. “No one was happy about this decision.”
“The bureaucracy in K-P has become stronger,” he said. “MPAs have no authority to demand their rights.” He added this left many PTI members at a disadvantage. “Many of them are disappointed over decisions taken by the CM and plan to leave PTI.”
Another PTI member said 60% development funds were utilised by CM. “The remaining funds have been allocated among other coalition partners,” he said.
Under the agreement between PTI and QWP, he added, two ministries and two special assistants slots will be given to the latter.
“All important ministries have been allocated to the coalition and independent ministers; PTI MPAs have not been consulted,” he said. “These include health, finance, local government and science and technology ministries. This is how the chief minister strengthened his position; he didn’t take care of the needs of our MPAs.”
When contacted, PTI MPA Fazal Elahi said all decisions regarding party matters were taken by the party’s top-tier leadership. “However, all party workers accepted the decisions,” he added.
According to Elahi, the PTI-led government is working for the welfare of the people and is willing to support noble causes.
About QWP’s inclusion in the coalition, Elahi said it was the need of the hour and would ensure the betterment of the province. Meanwhile, PTI MPA Yaseen Khalil said all decisions were taken through mutual consent.
“Party leaders agreed with the decision as it was deemed a suitable means of strengthening democracy,” he said. “PTI members will follow all the party’s rules and orders.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2015.