Islamabad: Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and defence minister Pervez Khattak had a heated exchange of words when the latter said he would not vote for him and complained about the neglect of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by the government, according to a media report on Friday.
The incident occurred on Thursday during a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling alliance, presided over by prime minister Khan, at the parliament house, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The defence minister, while attending the meeting to clear a controversial Supplementary Finance Bill-2022, commonly called mini-budget, reportedly said that he would not vote for prime minister Khan if new gas connections were not given to the people of the less developed province.
Khattak is elected to the National Assembly from Nowshera-I of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The sources said that on Khattak’s complaints, the prime minister became angry and asked him to stop blackmailing him.
On this, the defence minister left the meeting hall but was later called back by the prime minister, the report said.
After the meeting, the prime minister sat in his chamber for almost the whole day and met a number of legislators hailing from his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and other parties in the ruling coalition.
According to sources, Khattak was of the view that the province was being neglected in terms of provision of electricity and gas, while these facilities were being enjoyed by the people of other provinces.
The defence minister told the prime minister that if the situation lingered on, the people of the province would not vote for PTI, the newspaper quoted sources as saying.
However, Khattak told the media after the meeting that he neither harshly talked to the prime minister nor hurled any threat of not voting for Khan and had just raised the issue of gas shortage and ban on new gas connections in the province.
“Imran Khan is my leader and prime minister and I did not tell him that I will not vote for him if gas connections are not given to the people of KP”, he said.
Khattak said he left the meeting hall for a smoke.
“I am a smoker and I went outside the meeting hall to smoke”, he added.
Special assistant to the prime minister on political affairs Shahbaz Gill later confirmed that Khattak had raised the issue of non-provision of gas to the people of KP.
He said the defence minister told minister of energy Hammad Azhar that gas supply schemes in KP were being blocked and no new gas connections were being given to the people of the province.
After the parliamentary party’s meeting, the prime minister called the defence minister to his chamber where he again expressed displeasure over Khattak’s attitude, the report said.