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Pervez Khattak's New Party Creates Ripples in KP Politics, PTI Unfazed

If transparent and impartial elections are held, Imran Khan is likely to secure more than 70 seats in the provincial assembly.

by TNN Editor - 19 Jul, 2023 1530

Kaif Afridi

After the arrest of several leaders and workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the process of the party's decline is unfolding in a dramatic fashion. From the central leadership to the provincial level, PTI leaders are bidding farewell one by one.

It is important to note that Pervez Khattak, the leader of PTI and former Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, announced the formation of his own political party, claiming the support of 57 national and provincial members and parliamentarians. However, these claims have been refuted by many leaders.

In a significant gathering held at a private wedding hall in Peshawar, former Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mahmood Khan, was present alongside Khattak. This raises the question: Is PTI really fading away in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? To shed light on this matter, we sought the opinions of senior journalists.

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Speaking to TNN, journalist Lehaz Ali stated that PTI emerged victorious in all the by-elections held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2021 and 2022. Hence, it would be incorrect to claim that PTI is vanishing in the province.

According to him, in the present situation, Imran Khan still enjoys around 70% popularity in the province. If transparent and impartial elections are held, Imran Khan is likely to secure more than 70 seats in the provincial assembly. However, it would be premature to make judgments if Imran Khan or his party faces a ban.

Regarding Pervez Khattak, Ali believes that he may have cooked up a ready-made soup, but as long as Imran Khan remains in the field, Khattak cannot harm PTI or its leader. PTI has its own place in the province with a significant number of dedicated workers who are loyal to Imran Khan. These supporters are prepared to fight and even sacrifice their lives for him. Hence, Ali believes that Khattak's actions will have no impact on Imran Khan or the popularity of PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In terms of other political parties in the province, the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) holds the second position, cutting into the vote share of parties other than PTI. The Awami National Party (ANP) stands in the third position, striving to maintain its popularity in the province. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has almost vanished from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Despite these dynamics, none of these parties can rival PTI and Imran Khan is poised to easily win more than 70 seats in the province. However, this scenario is contingent upon Imran Khan and his party not facing a ban.

Mehmood Jan Babar, a senior journalist associated with national and international news organizations, shared his perspective on the politics of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He stated that PTI currently appears stronger than other parties in the province, as long as Imran Khan remains eligible and PTI is not banned.

Babar also emphasized that Pervez Khattak's decision to form his own party will have no significant impact on Imran Khan, as Khattak's influence is limited to Nowshera and cannot overshadow the entire province.

He mentioned that Pervez Khattak held a prominent position, and other parties also recognized his seniority and political stature. However, in the presence of Imran Khan, Pervez Khattak holds no significant status. Imran Khan continues to hold power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Pervez Khattak is unable to exert any influence.

There have been complaints about Governor Haji Ghulam Ali from coalition parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the past few days. When asked whether Ghulam Ali would activate the Jamiat party across the province, Mehmood Jan Babar stated that Governor Ghulam Ali could only make an impact within Peshawar. He would use all means at his disposal to secure electoral victories. Since he is not a religious leader, he can use financial resources and personal persuasion to garner support.

Ghulam Ali takes advantage of the Governor House, as other parties lack such a platform to connect with people and gain their support. While Ghulam Ali may have some success through these tactics, it is unlikely that he can activate the party on a large scale in the province. Mehmood Jan Babar expressed this view.

Mehmood Jan Babar also speculated that Ghulam Ali might face a dilemma regarding whether to become the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa himself or to promote his son, who currently serves as the Mayor of Peshawar. However, if Maulana Fazlur Rehman or Akram Khan Durrani attempt to establish their own sons as the Chief Minister, Governor Ghulam Ali may not make the same efforts for their cause as he does for himself or his son. Such scenarios have occurred in the past, but they would only be feasible if PTI and Imran Khan faced a ban.

It is important to note that political tensions have been rising in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in recent days. Some individuals are leaving PTI to join Pervez Khattak, while others are aligning themselves with the Muslim League-N party. Most recently, Alhaj Shahji Gul Afridi, a parliamentarian from Khyber district, and his family joined PML-N, including his brother (a former senator) and two former provincial assembly members.

Similarly, Pervez Khattak has announced the formation of his new political party, claiming the inclusion of several former members. However, the true extent of his support will become clear during the elections.

It should be noted that the term of the National Assembly is set to end on August 14, following which the caretaker government will assume power, and the Election Commission will announce the schedule for the general elections, which will take place two months later.