The differences between the coalition parties in the federal government, namely the Awami National Party (ANP) and the Jamiat e Ulema Islam (F) (JUI-F), have once again intensified, with blame being placed on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s governor, Haji Ghulam Ali.
Samar Haroon Bilour, the spokesperson for the Awami National Party, expressed her concerns, stating that any appointment made without consulting the JUI-F leadership will be viewed as a disregard for the coalition’s interests.
She emphasized that governing is not an easy task and criticized the situation unfolding in the governor’s house, not only from the ANP’s perspective but also on behalf of the entire alliance. The grievances against the governor extend beyond the ANP to other allied parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-N and the Pakistan People’s Party.
Samar Haroon Bilour further questioned whether only the JUI-F party is being favored while all other parties are being neglected. She highlighted alleged bribery by the governor and his son, who purportedly sought to influence councilors from the coalition parties in exchange for streetlights.
In contrast, Bilour affirmed the ANP’s commitment to the welfare of the people, emphasizing their principled stance and dedication to public service. She urged the JUI-F to promote dignity and decency, particularly among those holding positions of power, asserting that uncivilized individuals should not be supported merely due to their high-ranking positions.
Bilour emphasized the political stature of Bacha Khan and Wali Khan, the esteemed political figures associated with the ANP, while also mentioning Wali Bagh as a place where political knowledge is acquired.
Bilour alleged that the governor’s house is involved in a conspiracy to disrupt the peaceful political environment in the province, expressing concerns over the upcoming elections that will reveal each party’s standing. She accused the governor of being a source of embarrassment for the JUI-F and criticized Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s earlier statement.
Amil Wali Khan, the provincial president of the ANP, acknowledged his previous support for Ghulam Ali and admitted to his mistake, questioning the fate of the country when religion is manipulated for political gain.
In response to the ANP’s statements, Abdul Jalil Jan, the spokesperson for the JUI-F, suggested that Amil Wali Khan’s critical remarks stem from his fear of defeat in the upcoming general election, especially after the party’s setback in the local elections.
Jan dismissed the ANP’s influence, asserting that it is confined to Charsadda and Mardan and is gradually losing support even in those districts. He challenged Khan to resign and pass the presidency to a more serious individual, while also demanding an explanation for the disruption of the political environment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Senior journalist and Hum News Bureau Chief, Tariq Waheed, has raised concerns about the alleged interference of Governor Ghulam Ali in government affairs since the caretaker government assumed responsibility.
Waheed suggests that Azam Khan, the caretaker chief minister, is unable to handle the weighty responsibilities due to his health, allowing Governor Ghulam Ali to control government operations and decisions from the Governor’s House. Many ministers in the provincial cabinet, who belong to the JUI, have reportedly been appointed based on the governor’s recommendations, causing them to prioritize the Governor’s House over the chief minister’s directives.
According to Waheed, Governor Ghulam Ali has emerged as a dynamic politician and a governor who actively manages both the governor’s house and the provincial government.
It’s important to note that the conflict between the ANP and JUI-F did not begin recently but dates back to the selection of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari initially wanted the governor to be from the ANP, and Mian Iftikhar Hussain’s name was agreed upon.
However, JUI-F opposed this choice, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman requested the appointment of a JUI-F governor. Consequently, the ANP withdrew its support, and Haji Ghulam Ali became the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, the ANP did not fully embrace Ghulam Ali as the governor.
Waheed asserts that the current differences between the parties stem from political interests, as the governor wields significant influence over appointment transfers and development projects. The governor either approves these matters personally or Chief Minister Azam Khan carries them out based on the governor’s recommendations. This situation has led to a clash of interests with the ANP, which desires the appointment of bureaucrats aligned with their party in various areas, but faces interference from the governor.
The governor tends to appoint bureaucrats sympathetic to or supported by his own party to gain an electoral advantage. Consequently, these long-standing differences between the two parties have now escalated into overt political disputes as the country approaches the general elections in 2023.