ISLAMABAD - Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao says that he has closed the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chapter for ever and there was no chance of returning to the parent party.

"I still have sympathies for the Bhutto family but returning to the PPP or merging my party in the PPP is out of question. I have my own way now. It is kind of them (the PPP leaders) that they still think I can return", Sherpao said in an exclusive interview with The Nation on Monday.

The veteran politician who remained Chief Minister of the NWFP - now Khyber Pukhtunkhaw - and interior minister in his decades long political career, argued that the PPP has taken a "pragmatic shift" and the Bhutto ideology was hardly seen in the party led by Asif Ali Zardari and his son Bilawal Zardari.

"You cannot call me a Bhutto loyalist now. It is over. But presently even the PPP is far from Bhutto ideology. They have found a new way. The original ideology has been buried", observed the QWP chief.

Sherpao said after the deaths of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, the 'Bhutto factor' has practically disappeared.

He said that he can still talk to the PPP for alliance during the general elections but will prefer the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). "Since we are returning to the PTI-led government (in Khyber Pukhtunkhaw), we hope we will continuie the alliance during the next general elections. However, our doors are open for talks with all the parties including the PPP. We can contest the elections jointly or make seats adjustments", he remarked.

The former PPP leader recalled that his brother Hayat Khan Sherpao sacrificed his life for the party and he spent terms in jail with other Bhutto supporters.

"The sympathy (for Bhutto's party) comes from the long list of sacrifices. Although, I have changed my path, I still retain the liking for the Bhuttos", he maintained.

Sherpao said his QWP is working for the rights of the Pukhtoons. "I have my own agenda to ensure rights of the Pukhtoons. Any party can support me in this mission", he continued.

He said the QWP was an "open ended" party and "we welcome all for talks to improve the lifestyle of the Pakhtoons".

Sherpao initially joined the army after passing out from Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) with 34th Long Course in 1965 and remained in the military for 12 years.

His political career includes landmarks such as serving as leader of the opposition in NWFP (now Khyber Pukhtunkhaw) Assembly in 1993 and 1997, Chief Minister of NWFP (now Khyber Pukhtunkhaw) in 1994, Senior Vice Chairman of the PPP from 1997-1999 and leader of PPP parliamentary party in provincial assembly of NWFP (now Khyber Pukhtunkhaw) from 1997-1999.

The QWP chief said he will not "test" the PTI leadership by again nominating the same members for the provincial cabinet who were sacked by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on corruption charges.

"When we go into alliance, we should not test each other's patience. If we nominate the same members, it can create a bad taste", he opined.

QWP's Malik Ibrar Hussain Khan and Bakht Bedar were sacked in November 2013 by CM Khattak on the directions of PTI chief Imran Khan for alleged corruption.

The QWP later parted ways with the coalition in protest. In the recent weeks, the PTI again approached the QWP to rejoin the government and after a series of meetings, the two parties agreed on a power sharing formula.

Under the agreement, the QWP will get a senior minister and a provincial minister's job in addition to a Deputy Speaker's slot in the Khyber Pukhtunkhaw set-up.

Sherpao confirmed, "We have reached an agreement. We hope this time, we will go till the end and might contest the next general elections together too".

Asked if his party shared views with the PTI on national and provincial issues, he said, "We are an independent party so we have our own policies. We don't necessarily need to agree on all issues. The point is to work together for the prosperity of the people".

When his attention was drawn to media reports about QWP's differences with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) - another coalition partner of the PTI - Sherpao said, "We don't have any differences with them. We can work together."

Regarding the alleged rigging in the Local Governments (LG), the QWP chief commented, "It was free for all. There were irregularities and all benefitted from this. There were some issues with the Election Commission and some with the administration. So overall, we cannot say a particular party got the advantage. Every party got the share where it had the influence".

Sherpao ruled out the possibility of any martial law in future. "Martial law is not an option. It is not a solution. I think the political parties have to take this country forward", he added.

"The army has been doing its job and the politicians must concentrate on their duty. All the institutions need to respect each other's mandate. I don't see any possibility of a coup in future", he contended.

Sherpao also rejected the national government formula put forth by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri. "The national government is not in our constitution, so we don't need to waste time on this demand", he emphasised.

The QWP chief criticised the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) led government for failing to deliver. "They have not been successful in improving the life of a common man. Look at the price hike, the inflation, the lawlessness. The economy is in a bad shape, so there is no positive development at all", the senior politician said.

Sherpao claimed that the government was not focussing on the right issues. "The federal government does not seem to be giving importance to the main issues. I feel they have lost their way and they need to work hard to come back on the right track", the QWP chief noted.