PTI lawmakers vow to vote for party-backed candidates

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers have reiterated their commitment to vote for all the candidates supported by their party in the Senate elections.

However, they want merger of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP), their coalition partner in the provincial government, into PTI before the Senate polls.

Imran Khan, who will visit Peshawar on Wednesday’s afternoon, may throw light on AJIP’s merger into PTI and take his party lawmakers into confidence.

746304-imrankhanpervezkhattakpeshawarphotoppi-1407553000-620-640x480

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak convened a meeting of his party members as well as those from the coalition partners including Jamaat-i-Islami and AJIP on Tuesday to work out a strategy for the Senate polls and form panels of members to vote for the nominated candidates.

Sources said that PTI members did not raise the contentious issue of PTI chairman’s decision to award party ticket to Liaquat Khan Tarakai, the father of Shahram Tarakai, a senior minister in the provincial government and chief of AJIP. Mr Liaquat was awarded the ticket on the condition that he would merge his Sawabi-based AJIP into PTI. This, however, has not taken place despite public statement by Mr Shahram.

AJIP has five seats in the 124-member Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly. A candidate requires 17 votes to become a senator. PTI lawmakers say that they would vote for Tarakai owing to the decision of Imran Khan but would do so with a heavy heart. “We expect Imran Khan to remind Tarakai of his commitment to merge his party into PTI,” a lawmaker, who attended the meeting, told Media.

Source in PTI say that AJIP has already been getting more than its due share in the provincial coalition government. Giving a Senate seat to it is going a bit too far, they add.

“Minister for Education Mohammad Atif has played a key role in getting the elder Tarakai a PTI’s ticket for the Senate elections,” sources say, adding that Atif Khan is considered very close to Imran Khan.

The PTI lawmakers doubt Tarakai’s credentials as his brother MNA Usman Tarakai is supporting the Nawaz Sharif-led government in the centre, according to sources.

Atif Khan admitted that he was a relative of Tarakai but denied that he played any role in getting him PTI ticket for Senate polls.

He said that the decision was taken on the basis of principles. “AJIP is our coalition partner in the government and deserves one Senate seat like Jamaat-i-Islami, which also has been given one seat,” he said.

The minister said that AJIP might merge into PTI at an appropriate time as it had similar manifesto to that of PTI. He said that PTI wanted change and end to corruption while the same was the goal of AJIP. “We want to induct clean politicians with strong background and vote bank in their respective constituencies and AJIP fulfils the criteria,” the minister said.