The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) suffered another setback as former senior minister Aleem Khan joined Jahangir Tareen faction with the aim to “save” the party after “loyalists were sidelined” following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rise to power.
On Sunday, former Balochistan president Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind called on People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari after resigning from the post of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister. He did not announce joining the PPP, but there are speculations that he would desert the PTI. The other setback to the PTI was Nadeem Afzal Chan’s rejoining the PPP.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting at Tareen’s residence, Aleem said if a no-confidence is moved against Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the group would decide a future course of action accordingly.
The opposition has upped the ante to move a no-confidence motion against the government in the national and Punjab assemblies. They have also contacted several PTI leaders, including Jahangir Tareen.
Aleem said he would not have been “sad” had the PTI’s popularity been growing but lamented that the situation was “dismal” for the party.
“The PTI voters and loyalists are upset over the dismal situation of the government in the Punjab. Therefore, we decided that a like-minded [group] should be formed who had sacrificed for the party.”
The ex-minister said he spoke to around 40 MPAs in the last four days, and a majority of them expressed concerns over the situation of the government in Punjab.
He noted that the former PTI secretary-general played an important role in the party’s rise to power.
“We are thankful to him […] he is sick at the moment, so I asked Nawani to hold the meeting at Tareen’s residence. This was done in order to give a message to Tareen that despite his absence, he is not forgotten,” he said.
Aleem praised all the PTI members who “stood by Tareen in his difficult times”, as he lauded the estranged party leader for remaining “determined to his cause”.
He said it was still not clear why Tareen was not given importance after PTI came into power. “All those who struggled alongside Imran Khan for a “Naya Pakistan” were sidelined, and we still don’t know the reason behind it.”
“Maybe once a government is formed, new people surround the leader, and the loyalists — who supported the leader during his hard times — are cornered,” Aleem said.
He said Tareen has played an important role in PTI’s rise to power, noting that the like-minded group would work to save the party. “Tareen will also be returning to Pakistan in a few days.”
The development comes after Aleem attended a meeting of his [Tareen] loyalists at Tareen’s residence on Monday regarding the no-confidence motion.
Insiders had said among the 40 Punjab MPAs that Aleem had met, 10 were ministers, however, their names would be kept secret till the current political scenario becomes clear.
Ahead of the opposition’s plan to table the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, disgruntled Jahangir has been contacted by the senior leadership of PML-N as well.
NO WORRIES: Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill said Aleem Khan is “a brother” and disputes often takes place “between siblings”.
He admitted that anyone can have reservations regarding the way of governance but noted that the PTI-led government was “ready to resolve the concerns” of the group.
“Aleem Khan has not yet issued a clear course of action […] we are not worried, as these are our own people,” the SAPM said.
SINDH GOVERNOR: After holding almost an hour-and-a-half-long meeting with Aleem Khan later in the day, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said the PTI leader expressed strong reservations with the Punjab government.
“These reservations are in favour of our government,” he said while addressing a press conference alongside other party leaders.
Ismail said he and his team would be leaving for Islamabad to meet the prime minister and lay down before him all the reservations of the former senior minister.
He hoped that PM Imran would resolve the issues of the PTI leader as none of the reservations were against the ruling party’s favour.
“But the last call will be of the prime minister,” he said, as he hoped to resolve the matters in a day.
THE RIFT: In 2020, investigations were launched against Tareen on a report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission which turned the ties between the PTI leader and PM Imran sour.
The following year, a separate group was formed by Tareen’s loyalists in the PTI, who have recently made contact with the opposition as it seeks to oust the government.
However, in an effort to placate the PTI leader, PM Imran called him by telephone to inquire after his health.
The conversation between PM Imran and Tareen came amid increasing activities of the opposition — PPP holding an “Awami March” and the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) bid to move a no-confidence motion against the premier.