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PTI dissidents vow to free party from ‘dictators’

Updated September 05, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The dissident group of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) founding members vowed on Sunday to free the party from the clutches of “dictators and forces of status quo”.

Participants of the first ‘National Consultative Conference’ of the PTI Founders Group also passed a resolution, alleging that the current PTI, led by Imran Khan, “has failed to hold its party and public office-holders accountable for massive corruption”.

The meeting was chaired by former PTI information secretary Akbar S. Babar and was also attended by the former director general of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Ehtesab Commis­sion, retired Lt Gen Hamid Khan.

Former PTI Punjab founding president Saeedullah Khan Niazi — who is a first cousin of Imran Khan — former PTI secretary general Admiral Javed, Syed Hassan Shah, Khawaja Imtiaz, Mehmood Khan and former PTI Karachi president Commander Raza Hussain Shah also attended the event.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Babar clarified that the former DG of KP’s Ehtesab Commission was not a member of the Founders Group and he had merely attended the gathering as a special guest to brief participants on how the accountability process in KP was eventually derailed.

Mr Babar said that a central committee of the Founders Group to be announced within a week would subsequently set up provincial and district committees after Eidul Azha.

He said the Founders Group planned to organise conventions at the district and provincial level before holding intra-party elections. He said that before the next general elections, they would present their group as the genuine PTI before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and challenge the authenticity of the current PTI, which he termed “the PTI-Q”, a reference to the PML-Q formed by Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Speaking at the conference, Hamid Khan said that upon assuming the charge, he had been personally assured by PTI chairman Imran Khan of his full cooperation. However, when it came to the moment of truth, his commitment to hold the corrupt accountable was not fulfilled, he said.

He said the accountability process was derailed as soon as the commission began actively pursuing evidence-based inquiries against the KP chief minister, ministers, advisers and bureaucrats.

He also alleged that the KP government diluted powers of the commission as originally stipulated in the Ehtesab Act, 2014, making the commission subservient to the executive to undermine the process of accountability.

The former DG, who resigned in February, said that he personally briefed Imran Khan on the serious implications of the move. However, he said, Mr Khan never took any action to ensure the continuation of an independent and transparent accountability process.

He said that meetings on matters related to the Ehtesab Commission, including allocation and release of funds, were held at the residence of Imran Khan and attended by party MNAs, including Asad Umar and Jahangir Tareen, which created a conflict of interest.

Mr Babar said that the Founders Group had been announced last month and its aim was to force the restructuring of the PTI along its original ideology of change and purge the party of corrupt opportunists who now controlled it.

The participants also passed a resolution declaring that “after peaking in late 2011, the PTI finds itself in a downward spiral and is fast turning into another status quo political party”.

The conference acknowledged the services of former PTI election commissioners Justice Wajihuddin and Tasnim Noorani for their stand against the corrupt and demanded full implementation of all PTI Election Tribunal orders, including the expulsion of Jahangir Tareen, Pervez Khattak, Aleem Khan and Nadir Leghari from the party.

“To save the party from serious legal and political implications, the conference demands that the PTI should offer the ECP to conduct a detailed forensic audit of its accounts to establish the scale and scope of the alleged corruption and violation of relevant laws and hold the guilty accountable according to law,” says the declaration issued on Sunday.

The conference also demanded immediate resignation of the KP chief minister and all PTI ministers against whom investigations were ongoing at the time of the resignation of the former Ehtesab Commission DG.

Meanwhile, an official statement issued by PTI’s additional secretary information Faisal Javed Khan said that Akbar S. Babar had nothing to do with their party and that he was not a founder member.

He alleged that the group had been formed for “political blackmailing” and to save Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from accountability.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2016