PTI’s growing internal bickering, deadlock with MQM-P forces PM to review Senate tickets

New list likely to be unveiled in next 24 hours

ISLAMABAD: Internal bickering and criticism by the leaders of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has forced Prime Minister Imran Khan to once again review the party tickets awarded for the upcoming Senate elections.

A meeting of the Parliamentary Board of PTI was held under the chairmanship of the premier on Monday.

Well-informed sources in the ruling party have told Pakistan Today that during the meeting, the party leaders conveyed to the prime minister reservations of the party’s lawmakers and the allied parties over wrong selection of the party’s candidates for March 3 elections.

The sources said that the board members of parliament have expressed reservations over the Senate ticket being given to Faisal Wawda from Sindh, Agha Zahoor Buledi from Balochistan and others.

In this regard, Prime Minister Imran during the meeting allegedly hinted at a change in the tickets given for the Senate elections. While it is predicted that a new list may emerge in next 24 hours, sources have said that PM Imran may attend the AMAN-21 exercise in Karahi, and this would lead to a delay in the release of a new list as the federal cabinet meeting would be postponed.

DEADLOCK WITH MQM, INTERNAL RIFTS PERSIST:

The sources said that Sindh Assembly can prove to be a major challenge for the PTI where Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) leadership is luring PTI and other opposition parties’ lawmakers.

Chief Minister Sindh Dr Murad Ali Shah has openly claimed to give a ‘surprise’ to opponents on March 3 while other PPP leaders have promised to win at least 10 out of 11 seats – a claim that has sent waves across the opposition ranks.

The sources said that the PTI ranks are also disturbed by the development as a few Members of National Assembly (MNA) from the party have already refused to vote for party candidates.

Moreover, talks have failed to reach a consensus with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leadership on technocrat and woman seats. On the other hand, PTI and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) have agreed on a power-sharing formula for the Senate elections.

The sources said that the talks held between the two parties two days ago were also fruitless and the candidates from both the parties had agreed to submit nomination papers and later resolve the issue. Talks between the MQM and PTI on Senate seats are likely to be held soon.

PTI MNA from Lyari Abdul Shakoor Shad has threatened to quit the party over awarding of a ticket to Minister Faisal Vawda to contest Senate elections from Sindh. Shad told media that he will not cast his vote in the Senate elections.

Vawda is rumoured to be in a tight corner due to ongoing court hearing against him for dual nationality and he may be disqualified. It is speculated that Vawda is being given the Senate ticket as the Supreme Court (SC) upheld petitions in favour of dual nationals in the past.

Moreover, MNA Amir Liaqat also announced not to vote for Hafeez Sheikh in the Senate elections.

Talking to a private TV channel, Amir Liaqat said that Hafeez Sheikh does not belong to the PTI and hence, he will not vote for a stranger. Amir Liaqat also opposed the open ballot Senate election. Amir expressed differences with his party over the issue of open ballots in the Senate elections.

RESOLUTION BETWEEN KP CM AND ATIF KHAN:

In a major development, Prime Minister Imran has successfully reconciled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan with his bitter opponents, Governor Shah Farman and Atif Khan.

Sources said that Imran Khan has told Atif Khan to return to the provincial cabinet.

It merits mentioning that the KP CM had accused Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai of conspiring against him, after which Atif Khan and Shahram were de-notified as ministers on the directive of the prime minister.

Later, Shahram Tarakai returned to the cabinet but Atif Khan was kept at bay.

BALOCHISTAN ISSUE STILL UNRESOLVED:

The issue of PTI Senate ticket from Balochistan has become more complicated as the PTI Balochistan President Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind has refused to budge on the matter of the party having awarded the ticket to Syed Zahoor Agha.

Seven PTI lawmakers stand divided over the Senate nomination. Rind – who has fielded his own son, Sardar Khan Rind, for Senate seat – now has support from five lawmakers while Zahoor Agha has the support of only two.

Rind has support of two independent lawmakers, Umar Jamali and Naimatullah Zehri, who had joined the PTI due to his influence, and the party’s Yar Mohammad Rind himself and Farida Bibi would also vote for Sardar Rind.

Zahoor Agha, whose own party membership has turned out to be suspended due to protest outside Banigala residence of Prime Minister Imran, has only two MPAs supporting him; namely, Naseebullah Marri and Mubin Khilji. Syed Zahoor Agha was given a show-cause at a sit-in in Bani Gala in 2017.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]
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