Heads may roll in PTI Chitral

Recently, the PTI government in the KP removed two of its cabinet members – Yaseen Khalil and Shaukat Yousufzai – for their poor performance. Political circles say this was the start of a process to purge the party of incompetent people and bring in new faces. And sources in the party say sooner or later the PTI would also start reshuffling in its Chitral chapter. The internal rifts that have plagued the PTI Chitral for long also give credence to the claim that all was not well in Chitral and heads would soon start rolling there too. During the last a few months, things have not gone well in the party’s Chitral chapter with its district office closed and local leaders camping in Peshawar leaving the workers disgruntled. It may be noted that the workers of the PTI are mostly young and educated people and they want their ruling party to do something tangible that can be sold out to the masses as a sign of a change that the PTI had promised during the elections 2013. But insiders say the PTI workers in Chitral are getting disappointed as time passes because after coming to power the party could not deliver according to the expectations and the people at large are losing hope. A few weeks back, during the re-polling in upper Chitral, PTI provincial Azam Swati visited Chitral and the workers of the party were heard complaining that they were kept in the dark about his visit by the district leadership. During the visit of Mr Swati, a workers’ convention was also held at a local hotel during which there were repeated demands that the district president and his cabinet should be removed without any delay. It was also learnt that some of the lower cadre leaders of the party as well as allied wings of PTI, including the Insaf Lawyers Forum, handed over two sealed envelopes to the PTI provincial president which contained not only complaints from the party workers against the local leadership rather some sort of “proof” about the alleged connivance of at least two of the PTI leaders with the notorious timber mafia of Chitral. It is also of importance to note that before the re-polling in the seven polling stations of upper Chitral, the PTI provincial president had openly announced his party’s support for Ghulam Muhammad who was an ally of the provincial government. The PTI government was keen to help Ghulam Muhammad win the polls in order to maintain its majority in the assembly. It is also interesting to note that two out of the seven polling stations happened to be in the home constituency of the PTI Chitral president while one was in the constituency of the president of the PTI’s Mastuj tehsil. However, the results disappointed the PTI. What was at fault with the PTI local leadership? Despite open support from the PTI government, the losing candidate Ghulam Muhammad while talking to ChitralToday soon after the re-polling blamed the PTI Chitral leadership for his defeat. He also alleged that the PTI leadership paved the way for the victory of his rival. This showed that the PTI’s Chitral and the provincial leaderships were not in the same page as far as the re-election was concerned. Sources told ChitralToday that before the re-polling it was decided that after winning the seat Ghulam Muhammad would formally announce to join the PTI and after that the chief minister would visit Chitral and declare the establishment of the district of upper Chitral. It is very unfortunate that because of the internal rivalry and personal interest of the local PTI leaders, Chitral was deprived of the chance to get a large number of development projects and the bifurcation of the valley into two districts, the same insider of PTI said. The rifts in the PTI Chitral also came to fore in a recent founding day function of the party in Chitral. The interesting aspect of this function was that it was presided over by Fardad Ali Shah while Razitu Billah was the chief guest. Many political observers felt that inviting these two leaders as president and chief guest to the function indicated that the current PTI president and other office-bearers had lost confidence among the party workers. Besides, now PTI has two offices in Chitral and most of the activities are being coordinated from the new office where ISF and youth wing are also housed. The sources said that PTI workers in Chitral had become disgruntled as the district and tehsil presidents had failed to meet their expectations. Sources also said that the differences in the party were also felt while preparing to send workers to Islamabad to take part in the PTI rally. However, on May 9, they somehow succeeded in holding a meeting where the local leaders said irrespective of our internal differences we should show unity and work to fulfill the mission of Imran Khan. Most of the local PTI leaders were of the view that changes in the Chitral chapter’s leadership were imminent but they were not sure how long would it take. When this correspondent contacted PTI women MPA Fouzia Bibi, she brushed aside all the rumors and said she was certain that there would be no such changes in Chitral. She claimed that the central leadership was satisfied with the working of the party in Chitral and the party workers were also happy.

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