ISLAMABAD - The decision of Jamaat-i-Islami of staying neutral in PP-196 by-polls (Multan) raised many questions about the fate and future of its alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which was already under stress following the by-elections in National Assembly-246, Karachi, where both the parties contested against each other despite the intervention of the top leadership.

People in Jamaat-i-Islami, however, insisted that as their alliance with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is confined to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, there is no negative fallout of it if both the parties go against each other in elections in other parts of the country.

But the way PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi reacted to the JI leadership’s decision clearly indicates that the differences between the two sides have cropped up.

Refusing to comment on provocative reaction given against the JI’s indifference towards the support call in PP-196 by-polls by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jamaat-i-Islami Central Naib Amir Mian Muhammad Aslam said as they are not in alliance with PTI at national level, both the parties are free to make their decisions.

He, however, said the JI decision to contest the by-election from NA-246 and fielding of its own candidate against PTI in NA-108 would have not affect the party’s alliance with Imran Khan’s party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where both the parties are running a coalition government and have smooth sailing.

Further explaining his party position, he said they had joined the coalition government with PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the basis of a 14-point agreement. Since both the sides strictly adhere to the agreement, he sees no harm to their alliance in the province, he added.

To a question, he said both the parties are going to contest the upcoming local government polls in the province jointly for which almost all the modalities have been finalised with mutual consent, expressing the hope that they would sweep these elections.

He said though JI was not morally bound to support PTI candidate in the absence of any alliance between the two parties anywhere else in the country, his party extended the PTI candidate in PP-196.

Sources in Jamaat-i-Islami said a wedge had been created between the two parties following the failure of the top leadership of both the parties to agree on fielding a joint candidate in NA-246 against Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

These sources claimed that as JI had supported the PTI candidate in one of the federal capital’s constituencies, it was the turn of IMran Khan’s party to support the JI candidate in NA-246, the constituency JI has been contesting from since long.

In this backdrop the JI leadership was forced to review its policy and decision of staying neutral in the PP-196 by-polls was made to tacitly convey their annoyance to PTI, these sources added.

Some insiders in Jamaat-e-Islami informed The Nation that there was a sharp divide among the ranks of Jamaat as the leaders hailing from the Punjab are leaning toward PML-N while those from Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa want to fortify the alliance with the parties sans PML-N as they considered that in the past alliances with PML-N had caused irreparable damage to JI.

Sources in JI said a sizeable group within the party still wanted to go for revival of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, but majority of the top leadership of the party wanted to continue its alliance with PTI; rather they want its expansion to rest of the country to avoid the recurrence of the situation which forced them to contest against each other in PP-196, NA-108 and NA-246. This situation would surely leave a negative impact on their alliance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.