PESHAWAR - Not supporting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in its struggle against the former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif after the Panama leaks was not the only issue that led to expulsion of Qaumi Watan Party from coalition government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, but there were other reasons as well as rifts within the PTI that culminated in ouster of the Aftab Sherpao-led party from KP government.

The QWP ministers were also expelled from the PTI-led KP coalition government in the past. The rifts among the ranks of PTI are also deepening with each passing day, which could also result in severing ties with other coalition groups in near future. Accusing its coalition partner QWP of not supporting its stance on Panama leaks case against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family, KP Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman claimed, “This is the only reason behind taking this step”. The PTI voters were repeatedly asking the party’s leadership that how we could sail in the same boat if Sherpao’s party was not on the same page with PTI on Panama leaks issue, he explained.

However, insiders in the PTI describe another narrative of the episode, saying that as differences among Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak and his two cabinet members, KP Minister for Schools and Elementary Education Atif Khan and Health Minister Shahram Tarakai are at the peak, it was an attempt to weaken the CM, who had once been and still a close friend of Aftab Sherpao.

To form government in KP after 2013 elections, it was Khattak who approached and convinced Aftab Sherpao to be part of the PTI-led coalition. Accepting the offer, the QWP became a coalition partner in the provincial government on November 9, 2013. However, after the passage of six months, the PTI chief expelled the QWP, accusing its ministers of involvement in corruption.

However, this time again, it was CM Khattak who succeeded in bringing Sherpao’s party back to the provincial cabinet on August 8, 2015, but after agreeing to a seven-point power-sharing deal in the province aimed at avoiding any misunderstanding in future.

Before rejoining the KP government, the agreement was signed in Islamabad by Khattak and QWP KP Chairman Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao. The insiders in the PTI said that many among the party were unhappy over the QWP’s rejoining, but none of them spoke openly, because, this decision had been made by the CM. These days, Khattak is facing rifts within the party and even some of his cabinet members do not feel themselves comfortable with him.

This time around, the KP Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman and Minister for Revenue Ali Ameen Gandapur while speaking at a news conference in Islamabad announced ouster of the QWP.

It is unclear that whether CM KP was or not on board while making this decision, because it may cause trouble to the PTI, which also does not have much congenial working relationship these days with its another coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a party which has separately fought Panama case in the Supreme Court against the PM and his family.  In the recent past, the JI KP chief Mushtaq Ahmad Khan threatened to leave the PTI-led government if some of their demands were not met.

It’s unclear that what the JI demands are, but it has been learnt reliably that the party has already made its mind in this regard but waiting for a suitable timing. In other words, it could happen sooner or later, but it is crystal clear that it would take some months before the coming polls.

Not supporting its stance on Panama leaks issue, the PTI expelled the QWP from the KP government; the sources said that it could be a factor, but not the whole truth. As long as the latest decision is concerned, it is believed that it could be the PTI chief, this time again, to have ordered to remove the QWP from the KP government.

Pleading anonymity, an office bearer in the Sherpao’s party said that everything was going smoothly. However, this sudden decision surprised many. The PTI never complained about the QWP’s stance on Panama issue.

He said that expulsion of the QWP by the PTI was a violation of the agreement signed by the two parties in 2015. Besides, it was against political norms to expel a party without prior consultation. It would have been much better, if the QWP had taken on board to settle issues if there were any. The QWP’s alliance with the PTI was that both the parties would be totally free in making their own decisions.