ISLAMABAD - The political crisis for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) deepened on Friday when party chief Imran Khan in categorical words said he would prefer to dissolve the provincial assembly and call fresh elections to succumbing to the blackmailing of some lawmakers.

“No one can blackmail us to get ministries,” PTI chief Imran Khan said, adding that it was their democratic right to differ and inform party chief about their reservations.

While talking to reporters after his meeting with Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasirul Mulk, the PTI chief said if someone thought he could blackmail him, he had some illusion. “We will dissolve the assembly and hold fresh elections rather than succumbing to their blackmailing tactics,” he remarked in louder words.

He also said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was ready to hold local government elections on April 30 and the party had offered the Election Commission of Pakistan to start pilot project of biometric and electronic voting system from the province. He criticised the provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh for using dilly-dallying methods to hold the local polls and reiterated his earlier demand for the re-verification of votes in four constituencies at least to determine the level of rigging in the May 11 general elections. He lamented that there was no independent election commission in Pakistan despite there was free media and independent judiciary in the country.

PTI chief’s warning to the disgruntled MPs of PTI came after 14 provincial lawmakers of the party here on Friday submitted their resignations to the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly.

Later in the evening, the disgruntled lawmakers of PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in a meeting with the party chief here in Islamabad levelled serious allegations of corruption and bad governance against their own provincial government led by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, an insider informed.

Imran Khan assured that that a transparent inquiry would be held against allegedly ‘corrupt ministers’, if any, in the provincial cabinet while keeping aside their party affiliations, a source privy to the development informed. Khan also gave them assurance that central leadership will not poke their nose into the provincial affairs.

At least 14 PTI lawmakers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly had formed a forward bloc in the assembly while showing their reservations over the recent reshuffling of cabinet and demanding due share in the government.

A statement issued by the party’ Central Secretariat says that Chairman PTI Imran Khan met with dissident MPs from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the MPs reasserted their complete trust in the chairman. It further says that the meeting was held in a relaxed and friendly manner with Chairman Khan listening to the MPs’ grievances and concerns.

“The MPs made clear that they were not after any office and had no demands; but had worries about corruption and raised some concerns over what they felt were shortcomings in the functioning of the KP government,” says the statement. 

The chairman told them that PTI had zero tolerance for corruption and if they had any proof at all they should immediately bring it before him and he would act immediately. Their other concerns were also noted and the MPs were reassured these would be examined and removed.

The MPs also made it clear that they had only offered resignations to the chairman to use if he felt they were wrong. These disgruntled MPs, earlier in the day had submitted their resignations to the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly.

Imran Khan listened patiently to the MPs and made clear that he would now hold monthly meetings with the KP MPs. He also made it clear that after every three months the ministers’ performances would be evaluated. Khan told the MPs that the whole country as well as the international community were focusing on how PTI delivered in KP. The chairman also stressed that the party would not be blackmailed into compromising on its principles. The meeting ended with the MPs again emphasising their trust in the chairman and their commitment to the PTI ideology. These MPs on Thursday had refused to meet Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, saying they only wanted to talk to party chief Imran Khan.