PTI dissidents form pressure group in KP Assembly

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Politics on Friday, April 18, 2014

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Wednesday split into two groups in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly after 14 dissident MPAs of the ruling party formed what they called a pressure group.

When the session began, the disgruntled lawmakers entered the house in a queue amid thumping of desks by the opposition members.

Deputy Speaker Imtiaz Shahid led the group.

The combined opposition had requisitioned the session to hold discussion on a nine-point agenda, including the worsening law and order situation in the province.

Speaker Asad Qaisar chaired the proceedings.

Hours before the session, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak met members of the pressure group at the Civil Officers’ Mess, according to their leader Javed Nasim.

Mr Nasim told Dawn that Mr Khattak had assured his group that their grievances would be adequately addressed.

He said the pressure group would stay intact until its demands were met.

The leader of the group said PTI chairman Imran Khan was slated to reach Peshawar on Saturday to make announcements on the dissenters’ demands.

He said the party chairman had assured the group that he would look into their demands on merit.

He said MPAs of the pressure group did not attend parliamentary party meeting, which was presided over by the chief minister before the session began.

He claimed that the chief minister had withheld notification of the portfolios’ allocation to ministers.

However, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak played down differences in the party.

Talking to journalists at the assembly secretariat, he said some people had made a hue and cry about minor issues, which would be resolved very soon.

MPAs of the pressure group complained that incapable and incompetent people had been inducted in the provincial cabinet.

They also demanded expulsion of corrupt ministers and advisers from the cabinet.

Earlier, Speaker Asad Qaisar took serious note of the absence of the relevant administrative secretaries and senior officers from the house and directed the government to ensure their presence during the ongoing session.

He said lethargy on part of the government officers would not be tolerated and that the relevant officials should attend proceedings regularly.

The speaker warned that if senior officers of the relevant departments did not change their attitude, then the assembly secretariat would issue passes to the head of the department only.

Parliamentary leaders of the opposition parties, including Maulana Lutfur Rehman of JUI-F, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of PML-N, Sikandar Khan Sherpao of QWP, Sardar Hussain Babak of ANP and Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha of PPP, expressed concern over the growing militancy, extortion, targeted killings, kidnappings for ransom and other crimes in the province.

The opposition members said though the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had declared ceasefire, the crimes, especially the cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom in Peshawar and other parts of the province, had increased.

Sikandar Sherpao said being member of the assembly, he did not know about the parameters of the government’s peace talks with the Taliban.

He said the people of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were stakeholders in the peace process but the government didn’t consult them.

The QWP leader said militancy was a political issue and therefore, the government should not engage bureaucrats in talks with TTP.

Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha of PPP said militants were being freed but the federal government didn’t ask the Taliban to free vice chancellor Ajmal Khan along with Shahbaz Taseer and Haider Gilani.

Sardar Hussain Babak of ANP said Pakhtuns had long been suffering from security crisis in the region.

He said the coalition government was insensitive and the people had been left at the mercy of murderers.

He claimed that 65 per cent of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata population had been forced to migrate to Punjab.

MPA Syed Jafar Shah said peace could not be restored in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa unless the government’s writ was established in Fata.

He suggested that the all parties conference be held at the provincial level to find out a quick solution to militancy.

Information Minister Shah Farman, who is also the spokesman for the government, was totally unaware of the growing incidence of extortion and other crimes in the province.

He said the provincial police chief should explain the situation to lawmakers.

The minister voiced ignorance about the arrests made in extortion and kidnapping cases but expressed satisfaction over peace process.

He said the country had reported a significant decline in the number of terrorist activities, including bomb blasts, since peace talks between the government and the Taliban began.


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Written by Zulfiqar Ali


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