ISLAMABAD - Amidst infighting in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, serious doubts are being raised over the capability of Imran-led PTI whether it would be able to deliver up to the masses’ expectations especially at the Centre and in Punjab — the real battleground for the present and previous ruling parties.
Though the party survived the infighting and won the July 25 general elections yet the struggle for power between Qureshi and Tareen groups may mar the performance of the party, according to the political observers. Tareen group seemed to be dominating the party decisions over Qureshi as the former, according to the party sources, succeeded in getting KP Chief Minister of his choice appointed, while Shah Mahmood Qureshi-led group is also struggling to install its confidants in the Punjab and central governments.
Questions are being raised within the party that whether the party would be able to deliver especially in Punjab at a time when visible and invisible infighting is going on between two senior party leaders — PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and former secretary general of the party Jahangir Khan Tareen.
A senior party leader viewed that PTI after lengthy discussions understood that Punjab government would decide the future of the party and a vibrant and efficient chief minister more than previous CM Shehbaz Sharif was needed for the province. The party thinks that PTI’s chief minister should be such who should not only deliver but his performance should be visible on the pattern of the previous PML-N government. However, he said that PTI had so far failed to announce its candidate for the slot because of infighting between Qureshi and Tareen groups.
Zaigham Khan, a senior political analyst, told The Nation that delivery would remain a significant challenge for the next PTI government in the two provinces and at the center. He said that Qureshi and Tareen represent two different economic interest groups or socio-economic groups within the party as former represents the hereditary politics and later is the representative of the traditional industrial class that was not in politics before Zia regime. “It is a struggle between two classes and will surely impact the performance of the next PTI government,” he said. He said that though both are out of the race of chief minister Punjab due to different reasons, both are eyeing to run the affairs of Punjab while sitting behind the scenes, he added. As PTI has no suitable candidate for the Punjab CM and there would be a dark horse, so both will struggle to have a hold over the affairs of the province, he added.
Zaigham Khan said that differences within the party have now become visible at different levels in the center and in the provinces because the party’s hierarchy was fresh and had yet to be settled down. He went on two that Qureshi and d Tareen both used to approach prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan in the past in case of internal wrangling. “But now Khan would be the prime minister, and he would have no time to hear them both. Thus PTI would have to find an institutional mechanism for a long-term solution of this infighting,” he said adding that otherwise, this bickering would haunt the next ruling party for a long time. He said that governor –designate Punjab Senator Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar was another factor in this infighting as he has his own cult within the party. Tough governor’s position has only nominal powers, but he will also keep on interfering within the affairs of the Punjab government, he added.
The differences within Shah Mahmood Qureshi have become public many times in the past. After PTI’s victory in July 25 elections, Tareen wanted that his close aide Aleem Khan should be nominated for the slot of CM Punjab. On the other hand, Qureshi opposed this nomination, and himself emerged as the contender for the slot contrary to the fact that he lost the Punjab Assembly seat.
Some months ago, Qureshi and Tareen had entered into a heated argument in a party meeting chaired by Imran Khan when former pointed out that any disqualified person should not sit in the party meetings. Tareen in his reply told Qureshi that perhaps he had pointed towards him for being disqualified lifetime by the Supreme Court.
In 2016 during the campaign of other intra-party polls of PTI, Shah Mahmood Qureshi while addressing party workers convention had lashed out at some two party leaders and had said that he would quit politics if he had to seek party’s ticket for the next general elections from party leaders like Tareen and Sarwar. Qureshi had criticised Sarwar for his former association with the PML-N while he had accused Tareen of “destroying the party.” Consequently, Chairman PTI Imran Khan had to postpone the intra-party polls.
Muhammad Amir Rana, Islamabad-based security, and political analyst said that there should be coherence within any ruling party for better delivery. He said that any infighting within the party would lead to the formation of different power centers within the bureaucracy and this would impact the performance of its government.