PTI vs PTI: Healthy criticism or signs of trouble ahead?

Mumtaz Alvi
Friday, Jan 14, 2022

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary party meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday, witnessed tense moments, exchange of hot words between federal ministers and heated arguments between Prime Minister and Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak.

Insiders claimed that as the prime minister looked to smooth sailing of the mini-budget and wanted 100 percent presence of the ruling PTI and its allied parties in the National Assembly, difference of opinion and serious concerns by some key members on the mini-budget, including tough conditions of IMF and autonomy of the SBP and the expected further price hike marred the meeting.

At one point, the defence minister reportedly reminded the prime minister that they had made Prime Minister, who said that despite producing gas and surplus electricity, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was made to suffer owing to shortage of these utilities of its people and it this continued, they would not be able to vote for the supplementary budget.

According to sources, prime minister got up on Khattak’s assertion and said, “If you are not satisfied with me, I will give the government to someone else. I am fighting the war of the country, no personal interest, I own no factory and my efforts are for the national interest.”

Even, it claimed by the sources that for the first time, PM Imran Khan gave a stern reply to Khattak and said, “You are blackmailing me in front of everyone, I will not be blackmailed, you cannot blackmail me, I am not doing government to make property, I am calling you every day and asking for votes. Every day I am asking the IMF to reduce taxes. I have neither factories nor any business.”

Afterwards, Khattak, in a media chat, denied outright having spoken harshly with prime minister, who is also chairman of PTI. “No one had spoken harshly, I spoke for my (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) rights,” he said when asked about his exchange of harsh words with the PM.

When asked why he got up and walked out of the meeting, he said that he went out of the meeting not out of anger but to smoke and explained that there was no disagreement, only gas issue, he raised in the meeting and there was never any disagreement with the prime minister.

Asked if he had trust in the prime minister, Khattak replied that he had 100 percent confidence in the prime minister. He said that the issue of gas had been discussed. He said, “If any issue is discussed, it is not called disagreement.”

Later, Prime Minister Imran Khan had a separate meeting with Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak in his chamber in which Omar Ayub was also present.

After the meeting, Khattak told the media that he was shocked to watch TV as if he had created a storm, only gas issues were discussed. He said, “My question was that our gas schemes should work, I have not said anything that I will not vote, it is an internal matter of the party, I have not said anything harsh, I am not against the prime minister, I can neither be, nor can think this way.”

It was also reported that on hearing Khattak’s speech in the meeting, the prime minister expressed his displeasure and walked away from the meeting. However, senior members of National Assembly stopped him. But Khattak left the meeting, who also criticised federal ministers Hammad Azhar and Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin.

The atmosphere of the meeting was tense and the objectives of the meeting, apparently, could not be achieved as the prime minister could not formally discuss the issue of mini-budget with the members of the National Assembly.

Another PTI MNA from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Noor Alam also asked questions to the prime minister. “Will we get gas, water and electricity from mini-budget and also asked whether the security agencies would not be affected by the autonomy of the SBP. To this, prime minister said that he wanted to make it clear that there would be no compromise on the national interest, adding that security agencies are the first and foremost priority.

Then Noor Alam Khan asked, “If we will get gas, water and electricity from the mini-budget.” Prime Minister Imran Khan also replied questions from some other members of the assembly.

It may be recalled that the government has mobilised for the approval of the mini-budget in the National Assembly and today Prime Minister Imran Khan himself came to the Parliament House and was presiding over a meeting of the parliamentary party before the National Assembly session during which bitter words were exchanged.

At night, taking part in a live show commentator Ghulam Hussain told the participants that he went to Parliament House to see the prime minister. There he met Pervez Khattak, and later Asad Umar, Amir Dogar and some other parliamentarians also joined them. He said that Khattak was in a “very bitter” mood and said if their gas issue was not resolved neither anybody would vote them not he would vote anyone. Khattak also spoke ill of Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, but didn’t criticise the prime minister.

Quoting Khattak, Ghulam Hussain said that in such circumstances the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf would not be able to win a single seat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Khattak said that he wouldn’t be contesting polls in such conditions and if he [Imran Khan] becomes prime minister again he won’t be part of that government. Addressing the prime minister, the defence minister said that Murad Saeed and Hammad Azhar has been telling him (PM) fake stories and were destroying [the party].

Meanwhile a private TV channel quoting PTI NMA Amir Liaquat Hussain reported that he has an-kour-long meeting with the prime minister. The MNA told the premier that the situation in Karachi was not all okay, and Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi needlessly intervenes. Later, in a video Amir Liaquat said that people of Karachi were not accepting PTI president and secretary general, who were nominated by Ali Zaidi.