By Yousaf Ali
PESHAWAR, 20 November: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister and Awami Jamhoori Ittihad (AJI) chief Shahram Khan Tarakai has decided to merge his party into the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Shahram’s father Liaquat Tarakai has already won the Senate election on the PTI ticket. There were reports that the AJI in return for the Senate ticket will announce merger with the PTI.
In an exclusive interview with TNN, Shahram Tarakai said both the parties have been merged because both contested the 2013 general elections on the slogan of bringing change. He said the formal announcement of the merger will be made at a public meeting in Swabi on Sunday which will also be addressed by the PTI chief Imran Khan.
TNN: What inspired you to merge your party into the PTI?
Shahram Tarakai: We got the votes in the 2013 polls on the slogan of change and the PTI also got votes on similar agenda. We are also partners in the provincial government on unconditional basis which provided us an opportunity to watch each other’s activities closely. Imran Khan also invited me several times to join the PTI after which I decided to discuss the proposal with my party’s activists, office-bearers and elders of my area. I am very thankful to the AJI workers who expressed confidence in my decision. We have taken all our party activists into confidence over decision of merging into the PTI.
TNN: Many AJI leaders lost the local bodies elections in their stronghold Swabi. Was the falling popularity graph of AJI the main reason behind your merger into the PTI?
Shahram Tarakai: The PTI had made this offer to us several times before the local bodies polls. However, we delayed the announcement because we wanted to make the announcement at an appropriate time. The local bodies polls, which include village and union councils, are different from general elections in which the family and friendship votes play important part. It was seen in the recent local bodies polls that two people from the same family were contesting the polls from the platforms of different parties. In such a scenario, people prefer not to disturb their family relations and go for family connection instead of supporting the party. Our vote bank is still very much with us. We have decided to join hands with the PTI in greater national interest as our agendas are quite similar.
TNN: Are you satisfied with the performance of the KP government?
Shahram Tarakai: The previous government in KP did not serve the masses in true sense. Swabi district was also neglected in the past. However, it is due to the efforts of the provincial government that Swabi has now a senior minister, a senator and also speaker of the provincial assembly. It is matter of great honour for Swabi and it is also bringing more development funds to the district. Both the PTI and AJI rule the hearts of people in Swabi. The merger of both the parties will make it a major political force in Swabi.
— Translation by Aamir Khan