‘We could not keep our promises’

As PTI celebrates its 18th Foundation Day, party leader Abdul Quayyum Kundi admits there have been mistakes, but they are part of an evolutionary process

‘We could not keep our promises’
Zia Ur Rehman:  Where is the PTI going with its politics?  Are you satisfied with the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?

Abdul Quayyum Kundi: PTI had an uphill task establishing itself against the well-entrenched Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. No other party has been able to achieve such a national status through grassroots support. Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl are all largely regional parties, despite decades of efforts.

The PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not met people’s expectations so far and the party leadership is aware of that. There has been an intense debate in the party on how to improve our performance and deliver on our election promises.

[quote]We have to develop a cadre of second-tier leadership[/quote]

ZUR: Media reports suggest your party is in trouble because of internal bickering

AQK: It is true that intra-party problems and lack of transparency in ticket allocation have damaged PTI’s position. In order for PTI to emerge as an institution, it has to move beyond the dominance of one person and evolve some systems and procedures. We have to develop a cadre of second-tier leadership.

We also have to improve discipline in the party, which is possible when everyone in party respects the party’s constitution. In the coming months, people will see many changes in the party that will be aimed at converting it into an institution. PTI is going through an evolutionary phase and will emerge as a stronger party.

ZUR: There is a perception that Imran Khan has isolated himself from party affairs and does not visit the secretariat. Why?

AQK: Because of security concerns. He is currently operating from his home, and that has created a perception that he is not taking interest in party affairs. That is wrong.

Security arrangements are being made at the secretariat in Islamabad, after which the chairman will return.

[quote]The PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not met people's expectations so far[/quote]

ZUR: PTI had proudly claimed that all its office bearers would be elected. But recently, Imran Khan has directly appointed the secretary general and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president. There were no elections.

AQK: Yes it is true that some key positions are being filled by people nominated by the chairman. But these decisions were made after a resolution was passed in a central executive committee meeting that empowered the chairman to appoint officials.

This is a temporary arrangement. PTI workers are true democrats and they believe that all party officials should be elected. They are demanding that the chairman announce elections for these posts soon. The elections are likely after the local government polls.

Another thought that is gaining traction is that since last intra-party election had legitimacy issues, there might be new elections across the country. Things will become clearer when the process of amendments to the party constitution is completed.

ZUR: PTI had promised that the Chief Minister’s House would be demolished, corruption would be controlled, and local elections would be held in 90 days. What went wrong?

AQK: Yes. We could not keep those promises. But the pressure on the party to deliver on the promises is not only from outside. Even inside the party, a majority of supporters are exerting pressure on the leadership that we must deliver good governance to improve the lives of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

There are many competent people in the province who have not been given the opportunity to help their party’s government. The advisory committee that runs the provincial government has competent people, but since they are not from the province, sometimes they do not understand cultural and social nuances.

I expect that at some point more people from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be invited to help.

ZUR: Your party had said education and health were its top priorities. But in the recent cabinet reshuffle, the health ministry has been given to Swabi’s Awami Jamhoori Ittehad (AJI).

AQK: Our coalition partners, especially Jamaat-e-Islami and AJI, understand the promises made by PTI before the general elections. They were only given portfolios once they made a commitment that they would improve their ministries.

The new health minister has a hundred days to prove his competence. After that, he will be under pressure to either perform of give someone else a chance.

No ministers in the PTI government should take their position for granted. Ministries are not hereditary titles. They are earned through people’s mandate. PTI believes in the politics of people rather than the politics of power.