ISLAMABAD: President Qaumi Watan Party Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao believes there is a possibility of a change of government in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa province during the coming months provided the already dwindling PTI led coalition government fails completely. At the same time, he asserts, the central government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will survive the present troubles as the invisible forces just want to cut it to size. “It seems, some invisible powers want to clip the wings of Nawaz Sharif, and he can then carry on, as usual. The same thing happened with the last government led by Asif Zardari after the long march for restoration of judiciary followed by memo scandal,” Sherpa asserted, adding: “I think, the premier and his associates showed some aggressiveness on issues which annoyed the garrison.”
“The big problem with Mian sb (Premier Sharif) and his ministers is their accessibility even inside and outside the assemblies. They can do a lot on issues if they focus on problems in consultation with forces in the parliament, and these things will die down,” he pointed out.
“The possibility (of KP government ousting) is there. If the people become so much disenchanted then there will be no other way, but a change of government. Either, they will themselves leave the government or a pressure point would come to oust them,” Sherpao maintained in an interview with Daily Times.
“Still, we don’t want to throw them out at this juncture as they will try to become political martyrs. This is what they would want. If this come through a natural process, we will definitely want it this way,” he added.
But as Sherpao speaks his mind about the possible change of government, he still has the ground realities of the present day politics in mind. “Running such a collation of four to five parties will be a difficult proposition. It won’t be easy, and even if, such a coalition forms a government, its graph will go down,” he admits cautiously.
Sherpao’s party quit the KP coalition government with PTI in the early part of this year following a row over alleged corruption by one of its minister who was thrown out of the provincial cabinet. Immediately after the 2013 elections, Sherpa’s party had preferred a coalition with Imran’s PTI, despite desperate maneuvers by Maulana Fazlur Rehman to form a government in the province. Sherpao led QwP may not admit it openly for political reasons, but a big regret is there in the rank and file regarding alliance with PTI.
A former Chief Minister of the province in the second PPP government, Sherpao also remained Interior Minister of the country during Musharraf’s rule as his party had joined forces with PML-Q, the party that had full backing and support of the military regime under Musharraf. Since his parting away with the PPP, the size of his own party has shrunk a lot, but fact of the matter is despite being a small party it has not lost its political significance. Till date, in his absence, the PPP remains in disarray in that province. Sherpa himself has not lost any elections since his electoral politics kicked off almost 30 years ago. His close and constant contact with his voters and supporters in Charsadda district of KP being the foremost reasons behind this winning streak , despite surviving suicide attacks during the last few years in the same area.
Sherpao termed the current agitational politics of Imran Khan wrapped around rigging in the last election, as illogical. “He (Imran) accepted the results in the first place, a year back. And his party has been enjoying perks and privilages in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa. And now he is talking about four seats his party wants voter verification on. I don’t understand his logic at this juncture after passing of more than a year”. And then, he added, timing of agitation matched with that of Tahirul Qadri. “Now Qadri is also giving ultimatum of some months down the road.”
This agitation, he maintained, seemed sort of a camouflage as PTI was not performing well in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa. “So Imran wants to divert the public attention. Secondly, he probably thought that if he gives more time to the central government, he will not be able to make inroads into Punjab which he desperately wants,” the QwP chief asserted.
“Look at the language he is speaking. It is not his (Imran’s) language. Why at this juncture he is putting pressure on the judiciary, a media house , and on the government. The issue is much larger in his mind than rigging”. “The way some parties like Sunni Tahreek is favouring PTI, and PML-Q is backing both, the bigger game seems obvious pointing clearly who is pulling their strings”.
Sherpao said in the process Imran would lose especially the way he was trying to align with parties like PML-Q who he had himself termed as biggest thieves on God’s earth. And, a situation might come where MQM was also lured in to such an alliance if the situation warranted, he added. “Eventually Imran will lose, because election rigging at this juncture is not an issue. PTI should have agitated on issue like inflation, load shedding etc. A year after the elections even his party’s losing candidates have lost interest in the issue. Now people are saying he simply doesn’t understand politics.”
Terming the Naya Pakistan idea of PTI just another hollow political slogan, Sherpao said the change in Imran’s mind that he wants to bring about, and that in people’s mind who voted for him was very much different. “People wanted delivery on the ground. But PTI leader is desperately trying to rally people around him, but is making the masses confused who wanted him to be different from two mainstream parties (PML-N and PPP)”.
PTI led government, he said, was not been able to rehabilitate and reconstruction those areas of KP which were affected by war on terror.
They had not spent a single penny on those area till date. Provincial rights, education and health sectors had been neglected, but the KP government was only relying on statements and hollow claims, he believed. “look at the Polio situation in the province which is making the whole country suffer internationally. And now the measles outbreak,” he pointed out. The KP government has utilized only 18 per cent of the annual development programme, till date.
“Law and order has not improved. See what is happening in Peshawar. There is a tremendous rise of extortion and kidnapping for ransom cases that it has become another Karachi”, he said adding: “The impression that they (PTI) gave that they have come prepared to solve the issues faced by province, but one year down the line there is no delivery on the ground”.
Sherapo pointed out that the KP voters experimented in the last three back to back elections. “In one election, the MMA came in a big way, then the nationalists came, and now Imran came with a promise of change. In the last elections, every major political party won a province”. “There is no doubt that PTI filled that void in KP. Imran kept on saying that talks should be held with Taliban and eventually got that free movement across the province, the same the other parties couldn’t get. Then he kept on repeating the same rhetoric as he didn’t want to be in the eye of the storm”. “But as of now, he has himself put the Taliban talks issue on the back burner because he felt that talks with Taliban are not going to be fruitful. So he doesn’t talk about it much,” Sherapo asserted. At the moment, he said, as the military was going after the Taliban as the unwritten ceasefire had been breached, Imran was just trying to realign himself with the new ground realities. Had he been toeing the same old pro Taliban talks line, he would have to come out against the military strikes taking place on the TTP hideouts.
Sherpao advised the central government to play a proactive role in restive FATA affairs. “I have advised his new KP governor (Sardar Mehtab Abbasi) to ask the prime minister to come to KP and meet Maliks, civil society and cross section of FATA people on monthly basis to resolve their problems. “This will be a big check on forces who are trying to pressurize him on non issues at this juncture. He (PM) has come only for an hour’s times in KP till date” Same is the case with Baluchistan and Karachi. He (PM) should prioritize the issue and put in more efforts. Only then, Sherpao believed, there will be a feeling that the central government is in right direction. Instead of giving political advantage to Imran, let this thing die down and then call all the parties, and sit down for election reforms.
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