ISLAMABAD: As differences among the party’s ranks become more and more public, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has shelved party polls that were scheduled to be held next month, and has instead decided to launch a campaign against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for establishing offshore companies in the names of his family members.

“We are postponing the intra-party polls because this is a defining moment for the whole nation; to march to Raiwind (where the Sharif family’s residence is located),” PTI Chairman Imran Khan said in a press conference following a party meeting on Monday.

He said the PTI would hold a public meeting in F-9 Park, Islamabad, on April 24, the party’s 20th foundation day, despite resistance being shown by the government.

“We do not want any confrontation or a law and order situation in Islamabad, therefore we decided to hold our public meeting in F-9 Park instead of D Chowk,” he said.

Responding to the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s concerns, the PTI chief said he was prepared to sit with the minister to come up with a mutually agreeable plan. Chaudhry Nisar had earlier ruled out the possibility of a PTI public meeting in F-9 Park, saying there was a ban on political gatherings in the capital, but said he was ready to speak to the PTI chief on the subject.

Replying to a question about the march to Raiwind, the PTI chairman said he would unveil his plan in the public meeting. “We will hold the public meeting in F-9 Park and if our demand is met, we will celebrate and return home,” he said.

He also reiterated his demand for the formation of a judicial commission -- under the supervision of the chief justice -- to investigate the ‘Panama Papers’ revelations regarding the offshore companies operated by members of the prime minister’s family. 

Imran Khan said the PTI would contact all political parties and stakeholders to join its campaign against the government. “As it is a defining moment, we will try to take all opposition parties, peasants, lawyers, traders, teachers and people from all walks of life with us,” he said.

“It will not be a solo flight.”

Mr Khan said that since all PTI organisations and committees had been dissolved ahead of the party polls, a special committee would be formed to mobilise the workers and reach out to other political forces.

He said the Panama Papers had become an international issue as rulers of various countries who were involved in establishing offshore companies were leaving public offices and offering themselves for accountability. But nothing was being done in Pakistan, he said. 

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2016

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