ISLAMABAD: After around two years of internecine strife, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) came full circle on Tuesday when it appointed again Shah Mehmood Qureshi vice chairman and Jahangir Khan Tareen general secretary, the two senior most party positions after that of the chairman.

According to two separate notifications signed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Mr Qureshi and Mr Tareen would assume the offices with immediate effect, the media wing of the PTI said in a press release.

After the PTI failed to conduct intra-party elections, which were scheduled for April-May, to elect its new office- bearers, the party leadership has decided to fill the positions through nominations by the chairman.

Following the emergence of the Panama Papers scandal during the first week of April, Mr Khan had said PTI workers needed to focus on the anti-government campaign rather than using their energies in contesting polls for the party offices.

But for PTI detractors, it is bitter rivalry among senior leaders of the party and lack of organisation which have forced Mr Khan to postpone the elections. Otherwise, they said, the party should have gone ahead with the exercise Mr Khan held dear to his heart to turn the PTI into the first truly democratic party of the country.

Mr Khan has announced that his party will launch an anti-government movement if the government refuses to hold a free and fair investigation into the Panama Papers leaks starting with the prime minister and his three children. And two years down the road, the country will have next general elections. In this background, the question is being asked if the PTI has decided to postpone intra-party elections until after May 2018, when next general elections will be held.

When the question was put to the chief spokesperson for the PTI, Naeemul Haq, he was uncertain when the party would hold intra-party elections. His reply was, “at least in foreseeable future, I don’t see the party going for intra-party elections, as it depends upon circumstances prevailing on the national political scene.”

In background discussions, senior PTI lawmakers and office-bearers said although Mr Khan honestly wanted to hold intra-party polls, somehow he was finding it difficult.

“Unfortunately, the party has had a bad experience first with retired Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad and now Tasneem Noorani, who were selected by Mr Khan to oversee intra-party elections as election commissioners. The two wanted extraordinary control over the mode of the elections,” said a PTI member of the National Assembly.

“Moreover, on both occasions -- during the first intra-party polls held just before the last general elections in March 2013 and in run-up to the now deferred electoral exercise — the party has witnessed infighting,” the lawmaker said. “Therefore, I think that the party chairman has decided to keep the option of intra-party elections for some other time, and focus on targeting the ruling PML-N as it is on the defensive as a result of Panamagate.”

Published in Dawn, June 22th, 2016

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